New Reality Number One: The Collapse of the Church Culture
Quotes from the book; my comments are in italics...
The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations form a previous world order.
The further down you go in the generational food chain, the lower the percentage each succeeding generation reports going to church.
A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith.
This rings true from my experience at Anchor. I continue to meet people who are interested in God and his will, but the church has been a huge obstacle to their faith. People are against the institutional church, and are pleasantly surprised to find a church that includes cynics and skeptics who still believe amidst their questions.
...the North American church culture unfortunately now reflects the materialism and secularism of the modern era. Not only do we not need God to explain the universe, we don't need God to operate the church. Many operate like giant machines, with church leaders serving as mechanics. God doesn't have to show up to get done what is getting done. The culture does not want the powerless God of the modern church.
Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality.
I came to this conclusion awhile ago, but McNeal says it so well. We've never had alot of programs and ministries at Anchor, for a variety of reasons. Now we hardly have any "official" ministries; we have events on Sunday morning - that's it. And we fight the performance issues: the singing is not upbeat enough, the sermon is too long, the crowd is too small, etc. However, ministry is happening in very informal, personal ways - not on Sunday mornings, but in the developing relationships people have at church, as they begin to care more for who they worship with. Spiritual vitality is emerging at Anchor, not because of church activity (official programs/ministries), but because of their acts of love in the name of Jesus.
Many church members feel they have been sold a bill of goods.
The faithful, maybe silently or not so silently, wonder when their ticket is going to be punched, when they are going to experience the changed life they've been promised and expected to experience at church.