Traditional Church – The way church used to/should be

Questions abound as to why churches across America are in decline. Many have suggested that the church is not relevant enough to today’s society. As a result we do see young people leaving the traditional church and flocking to the emerging church movement. We have mistakenly attributed this to things such worship styles, attire, and programs. However, the real reason that young people leave the traditional church has nothing to do with those tangible things. It does, however, have everything to do with the lack of authentic truth and life.

The Christian Post has an interesting article concerning this issue from an interview they did with a Pastor of a mega-church in Colorado. Here is a portion of that article:

Many young adults are leaving the traditional churches they may have grown up in and searching for alternative forms, including the popular emerging church movement. Shaddix said such alternative forms are more appealing to “the marginally churched within our own camps” than the unchurched population.

In 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention baptized more than 100,000 18- to 30-year-olds. Twenty five years later, the figure dropped to slightly more than 60,000, according to Shaddix. And only 31 percent of twenty-somethings attend any kind of Christian church although more than half of them attended church weekly when they were in high school, he further noted.

“If that statistic holds up, our young Baptist friend who was an active churchgoer as a teenager won’t be a member of anybody’s church by his 30th birthday.”

If young believers are not dropping out of an organized church altogether, they are being “captured by philosophies” like the emerging church, said Shaddix.

Making a bold statement that some Baptist church leaders agree with, Shaddix said that “both of those venues – no church at all or the emerging church – champion for a belief in nothing.”

On a general note, Shaddix pointed out that the postmodern church movements downplay and depreciate sound theology, and that they will be short-lived as they are built on passing styles and forms, making “perceived relevance impossible to keep up with.”

Young people are not necessarily running to something, the Southern Baptist pastor highlighted. They are running away from something.

And the standard answer church leaders would give to the question of what they are running from is the church form, the worship style, the traditional denominational affiliation – the tangible. But Shaddix believes the young believers are running from “lifeless Christianity.”

“They’re so turned off by it that they’re running to nothing,” he said.

This generation of young people “can see through” the emotionless expression during worship and the frequent listing of prayer requests but the little time allotted in services for actual prayer.

“They can see through our hypocrisy,” said Shaddix.

This generation has the gift of discerning authenticity in the church, Shaddix plainly stated. And this generation wants to do missions, not just study and give to missions.

In 10 years, the churches that these young people form will be churches that are built on a biblical model and focused on the Great Commission; are desperate for God for revival, for the transformation of culture, for the evangelization of the lost; make sacrificial callings to prayer that take priority over sleeping and eating; have a spirit that makes them accepting of all people and creates intimacy with God; and are always preparing financially to take the gospel to other places. Shaddix cited this future picture of churches from Richard Ross who leads True Love Waits, an international Christian group that promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage for teenagers and college students.

The churches of the future are not focused on musical styles or denominational involvement.

Shaddix thus exhorted his fellow Southern Baptists to give their young brethren such an authentic church. If they don’t find it, they won’t stay, he said.

“The traditional church will survive and thrive if its people have a change of heart about their God.” (Read more at

This article, in my opinion, is right on target. I personally believe in the traditional church. What I mean by that is simply that I believe in the church as being a real authentic community of believers that are sound in doctrine, strong in faith, and passionate in its mission. I believe that such a community of believers is best suited in things that the church has done for years. I believe in Sunday School, Morning and Evening Worship Services, Mid-Week Prayer Meetings, and so forth. I believe that young people are getting tired of the traditional church rebellion and would love to return to the traditional church if the traditional church were alive. The reason young people leave the traditional church is not because of the lack of contemporary music, but because the church argues over musical styles instead of focusing on teaching sound doctrine. Young people leave the traditional church not because they do not preach from more modern Bible versions, but because they preach Bible versions rather than just preaching the Bible. Young people leave the traditional church not because they talk about missions and support missions, but because the church is not doing missions themselves.

There is something about the traditional church that is refreshing. Young people in our nation today are searching for such a refreshing experience. There is too much noise in our world today. Young people are tired of the noise and the entertainment. What they desire is truth and authentic Christianity. The lost are more attracted to a church that is different from what they see in the world. They don’t need to be entertained in order to come to faith in Jesus. They need to be taught the truth and see the truth lived out in real ways not through some show. This is why I believe we need a new kind of traditional church. I believe we should stop attempting all of the many different methods that are out there and we should return to church the way it used to be. However, church the way it used to be is not the all talk and no action that we see in the traditional church today. Church the way it used to be is where: (1) A group of people are simply passionate about their Savior. (2) Arguments over musical styles and Bible versions are unheard of. (3) The church is the center of the community and life. (4) Church attendance is second nature. (5) Missions is something you do not something you just talk about. (6) Prayer is priority and powerful. (7) Preaching is deep, challenging, encouraging, and convicting. (8) Doctrine is emphasized. (9) Fellowship is common. (10) Singing is passionate and worshipful (no matter what the style) (11) Forgiveness and grace is dispensed daily. (12) Love reigns supreme. (13) The world knows what we are for more than what we are against. (14) Instead of judging and casting aside those who don’t measure up, we love, embrace, and help them.

Is the traditional church gone forever? No. There is hope if we return to a life of passionate pursuit of God rather than focusing on the tangibles. Will the emerging modern church last? No. It will die as the trends of the day change. The only church that will stand the test of time amidst the ever changing world is the church that returns to the way church used to be.


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