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10 Church Trends that are Turning Visitors Away

10 Church Trends that are Turning Visitors Away

A new gospel is being preached. It’s causing both old and new Christians to second-guess the churches they frequent. Paul warned the Galatians about ‘different’ gospels: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. (Galatians 1:6). Prosperity gospels. Gospels focusing on self-actualization rather than selfless, faithful obedience. Hip gospels. Scripture isn’t meant for manipulation or gain. Pray for your church leaders. Pray for courage to respectfully challenge to grow spiritually-healthy places of worship.

  • 1. Church Leaders Who Preach Safe Messages.

    1. Church Leaders Who Preach Safe Messages.

    How can the flock become convicted if the shepherd is afraid to impart sound doctrine which challenges? The new trend affecting certain congregations includes watering down the gospel so that it convinces rather than convicts its listeners. Numbers matter, rather than the quality of spiritual fruit believers cultivate. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” (Galatians 1:10). The church needs leaders who can lovingly and tactfully deliver sermons which challenge and unify the body of Christ. 

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  • 2. The Razzle-Dazzle Church.

    2. The Razzle-Dazzle Church.

    Church planters are convincing staff and worship leaders that to grow the body, they must ‘get with the times’. Hip hairstyles. Jeans and flip-flops. Blaring music which screams rock concert. The latest trend includes spectacles of display which entertain the soul, but don’t feed the spirit. Tone it down. Let’s not ‘worship’ worship. The church which wants to impress with hip songs and beats gets tiring. Varied worship songs and styles will allow people of all ages to worship in spirit and in truth, not in song and getting loose. Ask yourself, “Could we honestly worship our unseen Father without musical instruments and strobe-lights?” “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." - (John 4:24).

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  • 3. An Overly-Friendly Congregation.

    3. An Overly-Friendly Congregation.

    The staff volunteers squeeze the life out of you when they hug you. They immediately invite you over for dinner. They want to know where you work, if you’re married, single, or divorced. The number of kids you have. Where you last vacationed. If this is you. Stop trying so hard. Being overly-friendly repels visitors. Let me ease in slowly. Don’t bombard me with ministry opportunities immediately. I want to learn from the incredible message your pastor delivers. Realize I’ve left a church which hurt my heart a while back, it’s just going to take time for me to trust again. “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers,” – (Proverbs 18:24)

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  • 4. The Inhospitable Church.

    4. The Inhospitable Church.

    You walk in and hardly a soul whispers hello. You listen to women gossip in the ladies room. Fellowship consists of once-a-month bingo in the basement. Your church lacks people of all ages. The only diversity is assortment of Bigelow tea next to the sugar and creme. I’d like to stay. Perhaps you can begin by shaking my hand and greeting me sincerely. It wouldn’t hurt either if you got over being ‘too-busy’ and sat by the shy, recently-divorced man who has faithfully attended but has been faithfully ignored. Maybe strike up a conversation which didn’t revolve around you. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” – (I Peter 4:9).

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  • 5. The ‘I’m Way Cooler Than You’ Church.

    5. The ‘I’m Way Cooler Than You’ Church.

    The pastor sports hipster hair, a hipster beard, and hipster jeans. The pastor’s wife’s wears ‘too-tight’ jeans, 3-inch platforms and sports a hairstyle which, quite frankly, doesn’t work with her age. Your main worship leader hides behind his Ray Ban’s and his band is way too cool to be approached. Your losing visitors because recent arrivals wonder if they’ll need to invest in a new wardrobe. It’s not that we’re against fashion trends or millennials; it’s that we want to use our talents and spiritual gifts and what we’re NOT wearing shouldn’t get in the way of doing Kingdom work. I don’t want trends, I want friends. Proverbs 16:18 reminds us:Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

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  • 6. The ‘Anything Goes’ Church.

    6. The ‘Anything Goes’ Church.

    This church will tell you what the world does is okay. This church will try to convince you that sexual immorality is fine, that grace and love cover sin. Sadly, this church is exchanging foolishness for wisdom. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they They became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened,” (Romans 1:21).Satan, the god of this world is deceiving believers into accepting worldly and cultural trends. Christ does love all people. Believers must show love and compassion to everyone. But we cannot manipulate His Word for the sake of what the world deems lawful and acceptable. 

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  • 7. The Cult of Personality Gathering Place.

    7. The Cult of Personality Gathering Place.

    Can I tell you how easy it is to put people we admire on pedestals? The God-shaped vacuum in our soul longs for heros. Problem is, admiration for our pastors can become a subtle form of idolatry. It doesn’t help when senior pastors print their faces on church stationery, flyers, postcard, tee-shirts. I don’t want part of my tithe funding private jets and Bentleys. I want to know part of my tithe is designated for single mothers or fathers with real needs. You don’t need a fifteen-hundred dollar pant-suit either. You don’t need to show off your tattoos. We don’t want hot-shot pastors who think themselves stars.“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

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  • 8. A Church Which Lacks Diverse Leadership Staff.

    8. A Church Which Lacks Diverse Leadership Staff.

    The current political divide has our nation in uproar. To further exacerbate life, unjust racial profiling and police officers who either believe they're above-the-law or are improperly trained to handle guns has created crucial conversations in the evangelical church across many media outlets. Viable churches are speaking about the importance of healing racial divides. Finally, church leaders are realizing the value of employing male and female pastors of color who speak languages besides English. Our nation includes diverse people. It’s time we see diverse church leaders and staff in place.“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). I’m the visitor who's ready to sing a new song next to people of color. I’m ready to strike up a great conversation with someone who's different than me.

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  • 9. The Church that’s Losing Its Flavor.

    9. The Church that’s Losing Its Flavor.

    Just as we prefer our food to be tasteful, Christ-followers are to act as “preservatives” to a misguided generation. We preserve ourselves, even when the world offers its spoiling fruit. I can’t see the difference from an unchurched world. I find you at the local bar. I’m behind you as you peel out of the church parking lot impatiently. I notice your social media posts are filled with curse words and crude jokes. My heart is grieved when I realize you're reading that book or watching that movie. Matthew 5:13 says,“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Aren’t we supposed to set ourselves apart? Will someone please pass the salt?

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  • 10. The Church that Plays Hard-to-Get.

    10. The Church that Plays Hard-to-Get.

    People are hungry for words which empower and equip. People need authentic hope. Drop the pretense. Be courageous enough to reach the unchurched. Young believers want to pitch in fairly quickly. Don’t quell their enthusiasm. Don’t wait until they've proven themselves. Remember, Christ called his disciples immediately. “Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." -Mark 2:17.I don’t want to hear a lofty sermon which preaches hellfire and doom. I’m no longer interested in listening to sermons which amp up your righteousness. I’m broken...hurting. I’m close to giving up. Don’t turn me away on account of my outfit or skin color or thick accent. I’m heartsick and I want a church which won’t play hard-to-get. 

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    Jessica Galán encourages her readers to embrace malleability in the midst of life’s difficult moments. She spends her day teaching amazing students from diverse backgrounds in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She’s wife to a super-creative man and the proud mother of three resilient young women. She’s served as a writing facilitator for Lysa TerKeurst through COMPEL Training. She enjoys daily cups of steaming hot café con leche and breaks out in sporadic salsa dancing when no one’s looking. You’ll find her stories at Connect with her here: Twitter || Instagram ||Facebook