(Photo by Selma Komisky)
A Note from the Editor: March, 2019
The Church Issue
By Sarah Komisky
Growing up in Sunday School, I was taught this fun little rhyme that says, “here is the church, here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” Well, this March issue, we are taking that literally and asking, “who are the people called the churched?”
The Bible is very clear on what God says about His beloved people. We are loved. Blessed. Cherished. Holy. Righteous. Royal. Sons and Daughters. In fact, it is no coincidence that God purposefully chose to use the metaphor of bridegroom and bride to vividly illustrate the intimacy, loveliness, and partnership that exists in relationship with Himself. 1 Peter 2:9 sums up the church like this, “…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” Powerful, right? However, why are we –– the “church people”–– living so short of that?
Short answer: we’re imperfect. Yet God chooses to see us forgiven, righteous because of our right standing in Christ, and pure. Yes, God gets that we’re imperfect. Scripture says in Psalm 103:13-14 that, “as a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers we are dust.” Hebrews tells us he “understands” or “empathizes” with our weakens. So yeah, our God gets us.
The problem is that we don’t. If we’re honest, we’re not OK with our imperfections and we don’t know how to deal with others. We believe to be acceptable before God and others. We need to be perfect, and we try hard to achieve it. Which is why we stop being honest. We conceal our struggles and fear what people will find. Furthermore, because the church in general is uncomfortable with addressing the real issues we are dealing with, and sometimes stays silent, we struggle and we do it alone.
Therefore, when we aren’t willing to get real and don’t know how, we suffer and are hindered from becoming more like the church God had in mind. Beautiful. Free. Vibrant. Holy. World-changing. Thriving as a life-giving home (Ephesians 2:20-22).
According to a recent article from Relevant Magazine, 60 percent of millennials who were raised in church have dropped out. By college, church attendance starts declining and more ex-Christians under the age of 35 are choosing to claims themselves as “nothing in particular” in terms of a specific religious group (known as the “nones”) according to an article by J Warner Wallace. Gen Z (anyone born after 1996) is dubbed the first “post-Christian” generation. According to Wallace and the Pew report, most “religious nones” left because they “question a lot of religious teaching” (51 percent agreed with this statement), or because they “don’t like the positions churches take on social/political issues” (46 percent agreed with this statement). To a lesser extent, “nones” agreed with the statements, “I don’t like religious organizations” (34 percent), “I don’t like religious leaders” (31 percent), or “Religion is irrelevant to me” (26 percent). Relevant Magazine stated Nine out of 10 people say American Church is too judgmental and 85 percent described it as hypocritical. A third of people said the American Church is characterized by “moral failures” in leadership, and a startling 70 percent found the Church “insensitive to others.” In an article from inallthings.org, the author polls Gen Z’ers to ask them if ever they would stop going to church, it would be because…54 percent responded with, “churches have problems.” Ouch.
As you can see, we’re not just struggling. We’ve also had some wounds that have affected our experience as a whole. These are just some prevailing examples.
This is why we at Marked Ministry want to have this discussion. While others believe it would be best unspoken, we agree to disagree. If more are choosing to abandoning their faith and the church (especially amongst young adults), then it’s time to get honest and maybe its time to ask why. In 2018, the Cigna survey polled Gen Z as the loneliest generation in history by 69 percent. Add addiction, metal health decline, broken marriages, and a slew of other things and it’s not pretty.
We at Marked Ministry believe the time has come to end the silence and bring to light what was in dark. We partnered with several of our world-changing friends of faith to join in the conversation. We wrote on a variety of topics that were based on our experiences and the experiences of those we know in the church. We got honest and we wrote about the hard things. It’s our hope that you would be brave enough to get honest with us.
May this discussion be a learning experience. May it bring healing, truth, and re-shaping of who God is and what His church looks like. We at Marked Ministry will not say that the church is perfect––no church is. Nor will we bash the church. That is not the goal. Our prerogative is to bring awareness to these issues that are relevant and seek to find Biblical solutions. We believe change starts with one, and we will continue to hope and believe in the best for the church in its current climate. Ultimately, we hope this issue inspires you to be a part of the church as God intended His people to experience.