What People Expect When They Go to Church
The Church Today
Today, there are over 30,000 different churches. With that many choices, how does one choose a church that meets his spiritual longings as well as one where he will fit in?
If anyone is looking for a church like the early church in the book of Acts, it will be hard to find. However, there are some basic things every church should have in order to meet the expectations of those who attend whether they are faithful members or visitors.
The Word of God
If you ask people why they go to church, their number one answer is usually to hear a word from God. The pastor or preacher fails the people when that doesn't happen. So many time, the preacher talks about what he did last week or what he intends to do next week. When he does begin to preach, he says it will be a short sermon so he and the congregation can go home to watch a football game on television. Therefore, there is little time to teach the Bible with the focus on the word of God.
With so many evil things going on in the world today, people need to be encouraged by the word of God and not by the pastor's own personal opinion about who is going to win the Super Bowl, March Madness or anything else that is sports related.
While the mission statement of most churches includes preaching and teaching the Word of God, the religious leaders fail to do that every Sunday.
It is so important for people to get what they go to church to get. They need to hear, and they want to hear “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Some churches spend more time on music, testimonials, notices, announcements, and other activities than they do to preaching and teaching the Word of God (Hebrews 5:12-14).
These are the times that try men's souls, and these are the times that people need more than a formula for prosperity.
It is a shame that some ministers don't even mention Jesus in their preaching. As much is written in the Bible about Jesus' birth, teaching, preaching and healing, He is left out of many sermons.
Jesus died on the cross that we may have eternal life. Yet some preachers neglect to talk about his death, burial, and resurrection.
When Jesus Christ is left out, the minister has not preached a sermon. He has merely given a speech. Every sermon should include Jesus Christ and Him crucified so churchgoers can know Him the way Paul did, according to 1 Corinthians 2:2.
The Holy Spirit
Too many churches today rely on their own way of helping people grow spiritually. They come up with all kinds of plans and gimmicks. Most of them fail because there is no power or anointing in them. Some pastors are spinning their wheels by doing what works in other churches. They start projects and courses and never follow up on them because they were not ordained by the Holy Spirit.
Churchgoers should expect the religious leaders to teach the truth given to them by the Holy Spirit. However, rarely does a preacher say he laid before the Lord seeking a word to give God's people. Instead, late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the preacher searches the internet and grabs a sermon someone else has preached years ago. That pastor fails the people and God when he does that.
There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from some other preacher's sermons, but it says something about the preacher who preaches another preacher's sermon word for word to his congregation on a regular basis. If the preacher would rely on the Holy Spirit, he will be given a sermon that will speak to the heart of the people about their own personal issues they are dealing with.
People are not getting what they need from today’s churches.
Decline in Church Attendance
Attendance continues to decline in churches around the world because people are just not getting what they expect to get. They are not satisfied with what they hear, see and experience when they go to church.
People post videos on social media of their church services, and the pews are empty. The parishioners in the seats can be compared to grandma's teeth: few and far apart. Yet, the caption reads, "Come to the church where great things are happening."
People are doing secular things to bring people into their churches. They are bringing in a few people who don't stay because there is no power to keep them there. Ichabod is written on most church doors. That means the glory has departed, according to 1 Samuel 4:21-22.
People leave the church because they are not getting what they expect. In other words, they leave because their expectations have not been met.They often leave unfulfilled and consider it a waste of time to listen to someone who neither preaches the Word of God, Jesus Christ, nor gives encouragement for a Spirit-filled life.
The Church's Main Purpose
One of the church's main purpose is to build people up and not tear them down. Most churchgoers want a place to belong where they can learn, grow and serve. They want a chance to make a difference by using their spiritual gifts and talents.
They want a place where they and their family can experience love and respect. No one wants to go to a church where he is beaten up and torn down. If so, he goes home feeling worse than he did before he left home. That's sad. That's very sad.