This week, I posted the question, "Is the Church still relevant?" on my facebook page and on the message board Coogfans.com. I got some enlightening responses. Many were from fellow believers who wrote about the criticisms they have heard from their unchurched friends about organized religion. Others were from folks who had an ax to grind about specific kinds of churches (Joel Osteen seems to be a favorite target). I also got some heartbreaking responses. Here's one from CoogStudentSam:
While I was growing up we went to church at least twice a week. I finally decided to leave church because I did not feel it offered me anything. I'm not trying to say that I don't need help or guidance, but I felt and still feel that organized religion as a whole is corrupt. Everyone claims to have the truth or a portion of the truth. That leads to the ultimate conundrum of who can profess their truth the loudest and to the most people. I think churches, for the most part, are run by very well-intentioned individuals who truly care about helping others or spreading their truth. Unfortunately, for churches to maintain their existence they must depend upon parishioners donations. This leads to a cycle of trying to accumulate and maintain as many attendees as possible. The focus inevitably moves away from helping others or even spreading a message to bringing in as many people and as much money as possible. My feeling as far as church and religion goes, is that if I live a good life and treat my fellow man the way I would like to be treated, then if there is a heaven, I'll probably get in. If that's not good enough, then so be it. If there's no god, it doesn't matter one way or the other then and I'm still happy with my life and the way I interact with others.
There are thousands of people just like him all around us. Most have some basic respect for Jesus and the Bible. Some have a sense of guilt about not attending church. All are people God loves, who He created, for whom Christ died. This Sunday, we'll finish our series "Reasons to Believe" with a message about how we can best respond to people like Sam.