My spiritual walk has changed since I have begun studying religion. My prayer life is not the same and I don’t really read the Bible the same either.
The problem is, when you start learning about Christianity, you are almost put on the defensive as “your” Christianity is slowly stripped away from you. You get to hear about the controversies on when the bible was written and by whom. You get to hear the conflicting views on the various meanings and interpretations that you grew up hearing. You slowly start to understand that what was preached on the pulpit was not always accurate and correct.
This is not always the case, as some of the “Bible” based churches will have a tendency to pass on the education that they received, but I want to say that seems more of an exception that the rule. Hearing the education can be good, as it prepares people for the controversies that are out there, but when you keep only to the literal word, you are missing out on the relational aspect of it that comes from studying with the Holy Spirit.
There is a growing trend of people returning back to the more orthodox churches. People are leaving the charismatic or “seeker” friendly churches and returning to those denominations that they either grew up with or are more grounded in traditions. I have been seeing this movement as a confirmation that the orthodox or liturgical denominations housed the true Christianity and people are starting to see this. I think it is something different.
I have seen the non-denominational churches growing at amazing numbers. Prosperity churches grew really fast, but who wouldn’t want to be prosperous? If you could learn how to be prosperous by praying differently, wouldn’t we all do it? Those churches that embraced modern praise and worship services mixed with contemporary preaching were highly popular as well. So does this migration back to the old ways mean the old ways were right? Not entirely so.
I still go to a charismatic church and what I have seen is people looking for something that they were not able to find in their old churches. It is not that the old churches were bad, but as I have experienced, they have a possibility for being seen as dead. People will go and meet and have a good time, but they were not encountering God there. God was there, but for some reason the people were not taught how to experience God in a real way. If you are looking for that experience and hear that people are getting it at another church, then that desire to move begins to grow.
I honestly think Christians want to experience God, but most do not. They might have a feeling of being protected and have experienced a miracle or two in their life, but they have not really felt the presences of God. This is not something you can talk about at church. It really should be, but people are afraid of saying I don’t know God the way I am supposed to. We don’t want to feel like we are different than those around us, so we pretend and try to rationalize that it will come when we are ready for it.
Seeker friendly churches are about seeking that experience with God. These churches moved so fast, that I think people confused experience God with getting caught up with the good feelings and happiness from the weekly services. The churches are more vibrant and less uptight than liturgical churches, so it is easy to feel the lighter mood at once. This is not experiencing the presence of God though and many people were sucked into this false state. As the novelty of it wears off, people begin looking around and noticing there is no difference between the church they left. Some of these seeker friendly churches never taught people how to seek and experience. There were no courses on what to do so people just imitated those around them. This happens at the liturgical churches as well, so these people never learn how to experience God. It is a shame, but that is what happens when you don’t ask and the church fails to ask you.
I don’t want to say that one type of church is better than another. Both churches have issues when they get caught up in only doing one thing. Seeker can become so focused on seeking that experience, they totally miss God. Liturgical churches can get so caught up in keeping traditions that people fail to notice God moving without them.
Think about when David brought the ark back to Israel. The old tabernacle and been set up and traditions were kept, but the presence of God was missing. The ark was gone, so who was being worshipped? David took the ark to Jerusalem and put it under a tent and people were able to be in the presence of God for the first time. While this was going on, people still sacrificed in the old tabernacle. Traditions and a singular thought will keep us doing what we are doing, but that doesn’t mean that God is there doing it with us.
Realized I have drifted off from my original thought. The point is that churches have a tendency to teach and train their followers in a certain way. That way becomes the foundation of faith for many people and when that foundation is challenged their worlds get shaken. People will drift away as they have questions they do not know how to answer. I have seen some give up their faith totally and will go out of their way to speak against the faith. They can not get past that hurt and it is the driving for them.
I try to answer the questions I have here. I try to share what I have learned and experienced so others wont feel so alone. If you have questions, ask. There are no bad questions here.