Groeschel: "People Aren't Rejecting God But the Church"

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LifeChurch.tv's pastor Craig Groeschel says faith in general in this country is not waning — it's faith in the church that's declining.

In an article addressing recent statistics showing the number with no religious affiliation on the rise, LifeChurch.tv’s pastor Craig Groeschel insisted that faith in this country isn’t waning — it’s faith in the church that’s declining.

In the Fox News article, Groeschel wrote, “Interestingly enough, though the number of those religiously unaffiliated is increasing, there is little to no trend in the number of those who express atheist or agnostic beliefs. People aren’t saying they don’t believe in God. They’re saying they don’t believe in religion. They are not rejecting Christ. They are rejecting the church.”

Groeschel explains that people in America today are increasingly put off by labels that might carry with them emotional baggage from past hurts by the church or organized religion. “I’ve struggled with what people think of my label: pastor,” he writes. But when one man boldly told Groeschel he didn’t like religious people, Groeschel responded in agreement. “I explained that religion is about rules, but being a Christian is about relationship.”

Groeschel was quick to say that he’s not against the church — “obviously, I’m part of one” — but rather believes that “to reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing.” In other words, we don’t change the message but rather how the message is presented.

“We have to discover our ‘altar ego’ — and become who God says we are instead of who others say we are,” writes Groeschel.

Groeschel’s new book, Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are (Zondervan), released in February 2013.

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  • Deana Callins

    There is nothing we do (sin or righteousness) before God that is new to him. He created all things. He knows all things. I realized, that’s why The Holy Bible is Uptodate at this present Time. The same Righteousness before; is the same today. The same sins in the past; is the same today. The Holy Bibles instructions, examples, judgments, favor, rebuke, are the same concerning our actions today. Because the way God feels about doing good or evil has Not changed. There is nothing new under the sun. Learn from others mistakes. That’s why God wrote them for an example to us. Learn by the examples of those who were good. Go bless all who receive this. Remember, Jesus Christ said Believe Only. Do not fear! Do not doubt.

  • Deana Callins

    There is nothing we do (sin or righteousness) before God that is new to him. He created all things. He knows all things. I realized, that’s why The Holy Bible is Uptodate at this present Time. The same Righteousness before; is the same today. The same sins in the past; is the same today. The Holy Bibles instructions, examples, judgments, favor, rebuke, are the same concerning our actions today. Because the way God feels about doing good or evil has Not changed. There is nothing new to God under the sun. Learn from others mistakes. That’s why God wrote them for an example to us. Learn by the examples of those who were good. Go bless all who receive this. Remember, Jesus Christ said Believe Only. Do not fear. Do not doubt.

  • audie

    I’ve been hearing this kind of thing for years, and I no longer buy it.
    For example, someone will say that Gandhi said “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians”, but will, of course, ignore that Gandhi was a Hindu, so the Christ he “liked” wasn’t really much like the Christ of the Bible.
    Or, someone will say that people are attracted to Jesus but think the church is bad. Then, when someone actually bothers to find out about this Jesus that people are suppose to like, you find out that their Jesus is not much like the Jesus of the Bible.
    On the Fighting For The Faith podcasts, one of the sketches frequently used has to do with someone visiting a Build-A-God store. The person makes a god after her own image, who approves of all of the things that she approves of, and doesn’t do all the things that she thinks are not nice. Her god doesn’t send people to hell, unless it’s someone who’s really bad, or whom she doesn’t like. Her god is, of course, very PC. And in the end, she gives the god she made in her own image the name of Jesus.
    So, this claim that people are spiritual but not religious doesn’t mean much. People have always been spiritual. The priest sacrificing the newborn to his god of fire is being as spiritual as the new-ager looking for the divine inside herself. I find it likely that the god they like is a god they have created, with little input from what the Bible says God is like.

    • Mar Komus

      Similarly, I could envision a “true” Christian going to the Build-a-God store and piecing together a “God” based on their own sectarian understandings of what the Bible says about God. The result is the same.

    • ServantHeart2012

      Audie, if the kind of “thing” you’ve been hearing for years is that people are not rejecting Christ but rather rejecting the organized church, you don’t have to “buy it” but you’d better believe it because it’s absolutely true. Religion (aka church) is much about rules and the game of “Jesus says.” (Jesus says; Don’t do that, don’t look at that, don’t go to that place, don’t think that, etc.) Knowing and following Christ is about relationship with Jesus. There is a difference . . . and people have in large measure, figured it out. Now we as church leaders must figure out how to lead people into that relationship.

      • audie

        Really? So, how serious was Jesus when He said “If you love me, keep my commandments”? Kinda sounds like Jesus wasn’t all that ooey-gooey relational, but had some rules, too. Or is that just me playing “Jesus says”. How silly of me, to take Jesus’ words so seriously.
        You mean the world has figured out how to have a relationship with Jesus? Is this the same world that says things like all roads lead to God, sincerity is what’s important, and it’s ok so long as you love the other person?
        I don’t think I’d “better believe” anything your trying to tell me.

        • ServantHeart2012

          You have some issues friend. Hope you can get past them and soon, but I refuse to let you steal my joy in the meantime. (Key word being MEAN as in spirited)

        • revrun

          And Jesus also said – concerning the law and commandments – he said, “There are two – LOVE the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and might, and LOVE your neighbor as yourself.” He said, “If you keep these two, you keep all the rest.”

    • revrun

      audie – Gandhi studied and knew the Christian scriptures. He was very familiar with the Jesus of scripture. He was also very familiar with institutionalized Christians and Christianity. Gandhi exhibited much more Christ like qualities than many Christians did and do.

  • Gary Colville

    I’ve been Pastoring for 34 years and and have on several occassions heard people say similar things to Craig. I believe he is right and the people in Church excuse themselves so often because they so much reflect the issues in Revelation 2 & 3, and have even added issues to the list in some cases, which essentially make the Church a not nice place unless people follow God’s instructions.
    For example I cannot figure out why Pastors and people in Churches insist on using the function God appointed them to as a Title when Jesus clearly said call no man Rabbi (term for someone who has received smicha (in the Orthodox Jewish world) or ordination in todays world. It is usually used as the term for the leader of a congregation in the Jewish community as in Christianity = Pastor) or Father or Teacher.

    Mt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
    Mt 23:9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
    Mt 23:10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
    Mt 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
    Mt 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (NIV)
    In John 1:38 it gives what is considered a loose translation of Rabbi as teacher but it is quite clear in Matthew 23:8 that they are not normally considered to necessarily have the same meaning.

    Jesus is so clear don’t do it.

    I’m called Gary and my calling is to be the leading Pastor but it must never ever be a title.

    Lets be honest if we tolerate dissobeying Jesus at this level then anything goes and it often does. Having a passion to serve God is not good enough and wanting recognition by title is plain sinful. We need to do things the way Jesus desires. I’m clearly the key Pastor at Hosanna Porirua but the greatest compliment I have ever been paid was when a non follower of Jesus said he loved the environment but couldn’t figure something out.

    I asked hime what that was and he said “who’s the head honcho around here?”.

    This is not the only issue but we need to look at what it is that makes the some sections of the Church not attractive. A key word might include the word much ignored.

    • Will Torres

      Great Comment, so true

  • rtp000

    Jesus is my best friend and Savior, not my religion! The issue is that many church leaders do not have an authentic relationship with Christ, and are leading through their own personal charisma and charm, and not through submission to the Holy Spirit.

    • revrun

      And how is it that you know whether church leaders have an authentic relationships with Jesus?

  • Gerbrand

    God introduced the church through Jesus Christ. The church is the Body of Christ. You either belong to His body or not. You obey God or not. We are being sanctified through difficult times. if you are rejecting church because of a bad experience you are rejecting Gods work in making you perfect.. On the other hand pastors must lead members to be real loving christians. Members must show each other Gods love. not selfishness. The mega churches cant promote relationships because everybody cant interact. The mega churchesbig advantage ia that they can give information to many at a time. but they fail to build relationships. Too many pastors are teaching what people can receive instead of how to serve. We must go back to sharing and servingand sharing Gods love. We must be real members of Jesus’ Body. The church

  • Mar Komus

    Book promo. But at any rate: the congregations that have chosen to organize themselves into non-profit corporations (usually under the auspices of a denomination) quite often become religious institutions. God’s assembly–His church–is organic. He doesn’t need our special buildings or lands or non-profit corporations that call themselves “churches.” He needs people of faith living in sync with each other and carrying out His orders in their everyday lives.

  • Whitey Bird

    “to reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing.” Much eaiser said than done in most churches today as the “church” people don’t like to do much of anything new or different even if it means more coming to know the Lord. Most “church” people are not very interested in having the ones no one is reaching come to their club. A lot if not most “church” people have forgotten who’s church it is supposed to be if they ever knew in the first place.
    signed,
    Sick and Tired of most “Church” people

  • Tim

    Actually, it’s probably more true that people are just more narcissistic. The truth is that too many people who profess to be Christians are so in love with themselves that they just simply don’t like the concept of the church. They don’t like the “come and die” language… They don’t like the fact that they will have to give up comfort to invest in someone else… They just want to know what’s in it for them. They simply don’t like the implications of a faith community.
    The other thing is, I cannot stand the “it’s not about religion it’s about a relationship” line. It gives the impression that living with Christ is just a “be nice and love people deeply” kind of thing… Those are good but they aren’t what God is doing. It’s only about relationship if by relationship you mean the relationship between the Trinity. This whole thing is not about us… Too many church leaders just don’t understand that.

    • revrun

      I’m assuming you’ve researched and studied your position?