A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled “Consider the possibility that the reason you aren’t going to church has to do with your sins.” It has received much more attention than I anticipated. In one of the comments someone who didn’t like the post stated the following:
The stories I read from David Kinnaman in “You Lost Me” suggest that the top reasons an entire generation of young people are leaving the church are only tangentially sin-related: (1) overprotective – make one mistake and you’re no longer perfect (2) shallow – nothing ever goes deep (3) anti-science – the church isn’t interest in the truth that agrees with the facts (4) repressive – the church isn’t capable of dealing with the reality of the world (5) exclusive – the “if you’re not with us you’re against us” mindset (6) doubtless – if one comes to question anything then it’s viewed as faithlessness so there’s no middle ground.
Sin is little more than a red herring at this point – focus on this scratch in the surface rather than repairing the gaping chasm next to it as if it’ll make everything good as new.
Should I write a post on sin as the reason for why people leave the church?
- Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that the commentator is right: “An entire generation of young people are leaving the church are only tangentially sin-related.” I still think there is still a place for my original post even if a few people stopped going to church because of their sins. I quoted Watson earlier saying “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.” If one is captivated by sin more than enraptured by Christ as Savior, of course they will find the church boring and leave because they find it irrelevant. These people need salvation before anything else! If this post was even relevant for even one sinner who needs Jesus Christ this post should be written because the cost of hell is too high. Hear the Words of Jesus concerning even the repentance of one sinner:
- “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7)
- “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
- Even with the above reasons that people give for leaving church, I still think one should not dismiss the role that sin plays in why people leave churches. In Hebrews 3:13 the author states that one of the reasons why we ought to encourage one another is “so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Don’t underplay the deceitfulness of sin. People’s stated motivation for doing things might not necessarily be the primary motivation for what they do. Hence it is appropriate to ask the question for people to have a genuine heart check before the Lord.
- One of the above stated reasons for why people leave the church is “the church isn’t capable of dealing with the reality of the world.” You don’t get any more real about the world than the reality of sin. Sin is within us, sin is seen in our action and our words, it is seen in the evening news, at work, home and with all the people around us. Ironically to not talk about sin, the sins that separates us from God and eventually leads some to leave the church, is to reinforce this reason for why people are leaving the church because it doesn’t deal with reality.
- Hebrews 10:25 gives the prohibition: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.” If one were to forsake the fellowship, that would be disobedience to what the Lord wants. Which is sin. There is a biblical foundation to address the root issue of sin as why people leave the church.
- My post wasn’t just to talk about sin as why people leave the church but also Christ as the ultimate reason to be committed to the church. If Christ is faithfully preached there, go to that church for the sake of savoring Christ. Christ is the solution to our sin problem; it is the motivation for our church participation. Do it for Christ, because Christ is worthy.