Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Reasons Most Churches Are Living in the Past

  • Meg Bucher Contributing Writer
  • 2018 3 Dec
10 Reasons Most Churches Are Living in the Past

The temptation to compare leaves any and all churches vulnerable to living in the past. Relevancy is a hot topic in modern churches, and the lack of it is to blame for the closing of older church doors. The trick is finding the balance between living in the world we’ve been put in to reach, without sacrificing the truth of God’s Word.

Love is the key to relevancy. God will place people in the doorways of our churches, and leave the responsibility of loving on them to us. Jesus comes into broken hearts in a flurry of love, healing the hurting. We, God’s church, are an extension of that love. Here are ten ways we are hindering the ones we need to be helping, thus failing to move forward equipped to help those who have the most dire need for Christ’s saving love.

Photo credit: ©Unsplash/PhotobyCaseyClingan

  • 1. The Word

    1. The Word

    Are we really focusing on what God’s Word says about our world? It’s a mess, and we’re promised it will get worse. How are we addressing that as a body of Christ? 

    “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

    Humanity is coping with unprecedented tragedy. Mind, body, and soul, we need to process everything that’s going on around us through the channel of Christ’s love. That can only happen through His Word. 

    “For the word of God is alive and active“ (Hebrews 4:12).

    Churches have the responsibility of applying current events to Biblical Truth. The Bible was written down in the past, but it’s alive, active, and able to minister to us right now. Do we challenge ourselves as a body of believers to provide relevant access to the ears we’ve been given responsibility to speak it to? 

    “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2).


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  • 1. The Word

    2. The Audience

    Is the Sunday sermon a pick-me-up for someone training to run their tenth marathon, or is it applicable to the person who could barely pick themselves up off of the floor and walk through the doors of the church? 

    Growing in faith is essential, but remembering who we were before He called us back to Him is a story that must be passed on to the next hurting soul. The main purpose of the church is not for those who already know Christ, but for those who do not know Him. 

    “Cultivate all these practices; live by them so that all will see how you are advancing and growing” (1 Timothy 4:15).

    We are never so advanced in our faith that we can’t look back and learn from the beginning. When we live out our faith for others to see, God uses our beginnings just as powerfully as our present to speak healing to others. 


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  • 1. The Word

    3. The Societal Fringe

    Looking around our body of believers and visitors, can we account for all of the different sects of society that reside in our city? Unaccountable attendance from surrounding areas is a sign of stunted growth. 

    “You redeemed for God people from every tribe and language, people from every race and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

    Are the poor (not just in spirit, but the literal poor) worshipping side-by-side with us on Sundays? If not, then why? Do we look around at different cultural backgrounds, skin colors, and collars? When the body begins to look the same, we’ve lost touch with the currency of our reach. 

    “So when His name is called, every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and below” (Philippians 2:10). 

    It’s our job to go and get those people to church. Jesus went out of his way to get people, to speak to people. We should, too. 


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  • 1. The Word

    4. Age

    Is there a diversity of age in our church? No one likes change, but as Christians we are charged to see the bright side of each generational shift. The younger people coming up are children of God, too. He has gifted them and purposed them just as He has all of the other generations before. 

    “It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes” (Colossians 1:16). 

    The direction we are moving in is no surprise to God. He provides what we need for the time we live in. When churches can combine the wisdom that comes with years spent walking with God, with the creative gifts that speak to the world we live in now, we have the ability to reach more souls for Christ. 

    When we learn to see each other in the light God sees us, our ability to work together for His Kingdom’s purpose enables the church to lift itself out of the past and into the now. 


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  • 1. The Word

    5. Asking for Money

    It’s a task that has to be done tactfully, but it does have to be done. If passing a basket or committing the congregation to envelopes is putting a cap on giving, then get rid of it. There are many modern churches that are well-funded out the stirring desire of God on their member’s hearts to give. 

    “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce” (Proverbs 3:9).

    A proper Biblical understanding of why God instructs us to give should be explained from the stage by the pastor. It’s a reality we have to face, but not force. Trust that when we speak God’s Word, He has the power to move hearts to give. 

    “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).


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  • 1. The Word

    6. Technology

    There isn’t a catch-all for how much technology to incorporate into church, but we should definitely be asking people. It’s a tricky mix in staying current with the world we live in, but not becoming of the world. There’s nothing wrong with the creativity that God has put in us to celebrate His creation! Let’s not be afraid to discover new ways to express that. 

    “Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties” (1 Peter 4:10). 

    The message should not be lost in the tech, but it can enhance our memory of it. An amplified worship experience motivates us right up and out of our seats, allowing us to fully engage with our God. Maybe we’re too old and it’s too loud … but it’s not about us. It’s about the people walking through those doors that need to experience a relevant God. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/diego_cervo

  • 1. The Word

    7. Kids in Church

    What family with five kids wants to sit in church on Sunday and wrestle their children for a sip of their coffee? Most church goers don’t mind babies crying and toddlers cute little voices, but it’s bothering the parents! Having a separate program for children helps keep churches current. 

    While giving the parents a chance to connect with God and fill their hearts back up to pour into their children throughout the week, kids get to experience God on their level as well. Sitting in church together as a family is wonderful on occasion, but kids and parents need to be ministered differently. 


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  • 1. The Word

    8. Worship

    If there was a way to please everyone with song choice, all worship leaders would own the manual. Worship leaders are called to that ministry for a reason, and specifically to the body of believers they sing to. 

    Relevant worship starts with a relevant worship leader. Someone who is in the Word and in touch with the Father every day, and able to relay the message God lays on their heart like only they can …through their God-given gift. Churches that allow their worship teams to write their own music have the chance to experience it on a more personal level. 

    “Consider what it must have looked and sounded like in those days: voices lifted, shouting for joy, trumpets blaring, stringed instruments playing, people dancing, pipes humming, tambourines keeping rhythm, cymbals crashing. There are times when worship ought to break out in joy. Is it possible that our worship is too quiet, too reserved, too structured?” (Voice Commentary, Psalm 150).


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  • 1. The Word

    9. An Accessorized Congregation

    Parents carry their coffee as an appendage, for better or worse. Others clutch it for comfort. Maybe breakfast alluded someone, and they break open a granola bar into the sanctuary. That’s OK, people. They are sitting in church, next to you, probably not so you can pick them a apart. A crowd full of millennials doesn’t need to be told to silence their smartphones. Let them follow along with their Bible App and check into church. Maybe they are scrolling Facebook … that’s how they check in! Churches that try to remove currency from current people will end up removing the people their church needs to stay relevant. 

    Christ died to welcome all of us into the presence of God, and that should be our attitude, too. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). 


    Photo credit: Unsplash 

  • 1. The Word

    10. Public Confession

    Churches that require public confession to be forgiven for sins are not only living in the past, but they are promoting something that is not Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does God instruct us to sit in the presence of any other human being and bare our hearts in order to be forgiven. 

    “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    This is a huge stumbling block for moving out of the past and into the community of people in need of the healing only Christ can provide.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).


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    Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, “Mom” is the most important calling on her life, next to encouraging others to seek Him first … authentically. A writer, mom, youth worship leader/teacher and Bible Study leader, she can often be found having some kind of an adventure in the small little lake town where she resides with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Goldendoodle.