Ask some folks why they have not darkened the door of a Christian church in years, and you frequently hear that they just don’t like organized religion. Would disorganized religion be better? What they are saying is something else altogether.
Christian faith communities generally proclaim Jesus Christ as the center of their worship. The choice of hymns, the answer to the band/no band question, and the order of worship frequently contribute to differences in experiences.
The Underbelly of Organized Christianity
What folks have a hard time with, which they then refer to as organized religion, is the set of unwritten rules that some faith groups have adopted. Examples include the adoption of personal facades, a formation of cliques, and a strict hierarchy. In this type of environment, spiritual growth is virtually impossible.
What Organized Religion Really Looks Like
- No blind faith. Faith is not the emotional high after a rousing sermon. It is also not blindly trusting one minister’s interpretation of scripture. Instead, informed faith rests on personal Bible studies, elders and pastors who welcome questions, and a congregation that is committed to wrestling with the scriptures.
- No entertainment. Remember Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show? The two old guys in the balcony would always heckle Fozzie Bear, Kermit, and the rest. An organized church has the advantage of running with the help of volunteers who are so busy serving that they have no time for critiquing the worship team or others. There is a general understanding that God is the audience, not the attendee.
- No judgment. The Pharisees had plenty to say about the crowds that ran with Jesus. Comprised of outcasts, misfits, and broken people, they were the group that eagerly welcomed the good news. The same is true in today’s church; there is no judgment. Come as you are, get help when you need it, and know that everyone struggles with something.
I have yet to find someone who has a difficult time with this concept of organized religion.