What is the difference between going to church and believing in God? Many would say that they do not have to be religious to believe in a higher being, but others would dispute it saying being among other worshippers in a holy dwelling is what God intended. Let me first state that I am Lutheran, being derived from Martin Luther breaking away from the Catholic Church because he felt the priest held almighty power.
Church when used correctly (as in anything else) is a place where most people go to pray to their God and gain perspective of life’s’ many challenges. I particularly go to relieve stress, let go of the world’s burdens, and to take communion. My church is actually the first African American Church established in Detroit in 1930 by a group of black families in their homes for those who longed for the South. Today my church like many other Lutheran churches suffers to reestablish its identity and find its place in the church market. Now we all have heard the stories of the churches where affluent members are sat upfront and tithing is done five times in one service. As I have ventured off to visit some of the Detroit local churches I realized they welcome all. Church whether we like it or not is a business to a certain extent.
The youth of today are different; they talk different, dress different, and have different ideas of what God means and how he is to be praised. I am a 33 and I have worn jeans in church twice and both times I was attending a Lions or Tigers game afterwards. Today’s youth wants to come as they are and frankly wearing a suit is not in their repertoire. Furthermore, they do not want to be judged which is what elder members of the church often do. Let’s be clear: there have always been issues within the church and its members but they were handled discretely and not talked about.
Pastor Steve Essenberg, a former board member of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Eastern Chapter, (as was I), and the current pastor of Charity Lutheran Church in east Detroit states, “Labels fascinate me both for their widespread use and their widespread uselessness. In the church world we like to label our current culture as “Post-Modern.” This may be helpful in a limited sense, but for many, labeling the situation means they have come to grips with the situation. It leads to the impression that the problems of the Church are caused by external forces rather than internal forces. It is an indicator of the organizational mindset that has become a negative internal force within the Church. The Bible, however, does not describe the church as an organization but as the “body of Christ” or the “bride of Christ.” These descriptions should convey the reality that the Church is an organism, not an organization. He goes on to state, “Jesus Christ was concerned with baptizing and teaching not the size of a church or who attends it.”
So the question is how do we fix the problem? It is evident that we all could use a higher being guiding our everyday lives. I have three simple solutions for all churches but for those with deep entrenched traditions specifically: welcome people as they are and treat them like family, it is the house of God, secondly, bringing the youth back to organized religion might not work unless you listen to them and their needs and do not judge them, and lastly get involved in the community for example, having a movie night for young families, feeding the homeless and impoverished, and getting involved through other community organizations in the area. A Pastor is a messenger, who conveys a message to all whom will hear it no matter who they are or what they have done.