Giving Up on Organized Religion?
The Huffington Post reports, “American Confidence In Organized Religion At All Time Low” today. And I am not surprised. My friends Dan Kimball and David Kinnaman have been writing books about this general topic for a while. They Like Jesus But Not The Church, unChristian, You Lost Me, and Adventures in Churchland all broach this topic – offering helpful criticism of the church from within. I’m about two thirds of the way through Dan Kimball’s latest book and find his insights into the mess of organized religion encouraging. Dan writes:
Some of the negative press about the church is understandable, but what is often missing is reporting that communicates all the good things the church has organized to accomplish for the good of others. And that sometimes gets forgotten when people criticize the church. Without downplaying the wrongs that have been done by the church, we also need to acknowledge the many things that the church has done right.
Dan goes on to note some of the things he’s experienced that the church is doing right.
It’s easy for us to rail on all the things the church has done wrong. In my research on talking to girls about sex, I’m finding more than enough to be critical of. But I don’t want to forget the good that the church has done and is doing. There have been days when I have wanted to give up on organized religion. But like Dan, I continue to be committed to the church. While there are things that I have been concerned with even in my own local church, the good that the church is doing helps to keep me hanging on. My recent trip to Thailand to work to stop sex trafficking is because my local church, Overlake Christian Church (OCC), has been working there for over ten years giving birth to Global Breakthrough – an organization committed to bringing hope, dignity and quality of life to the oppressed of the world. The Student Ministries at OCC has been a great place for my teens to participate in God’s mission and wrestle with honest questions about their faith and sees hundreds of young people serve the world both locally and globally each year. My friends at Vineyard Community Church in Shoreline are actively involved in strengthening at-risk youth and families in the region through their partnership with Turning Point Seattle. I could mention many more, but you get the idea. There’s a lot of good going on even here in one of the least religious states in the country.
We can’t ignore the wrongs that have been done or are being done by the church, but let us not forget the good. And let us participate in the good. We are invited to be cooperative friends of Jesus living lives of creative goodness in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of others. What are you and your churches doing for the sake of others?
One of the ways I hope to participate in creative goodness this summer is by giving away books that inspire conversation around the topics of church and sexuality. Sign up to get monthly email updates delivered straight to your inbox and you’ll be entered in the weekly drawing for free books when you confirm. Here’s a list of the books I have offered so far in my summer #freebookgiveaway:
This week’s choices are:
|The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone? by Jim Henderson
|Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home by Jonalyn Grace Fincher
Last week’s choices were:
|Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church by Pam Hogeweide
|Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion by Dan Kimball
The first week’s choices were:
|Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Communityby Andrew Marin
|The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are by Jenell Williams Paris
I’m not giving up on organized religion today. Instead, I’m hoping to help reorganize the religious organizations I participate in to be more in alignment with God’s Kingdom. And I’m praying with the church through the ages, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.