Down with the church! (not)

It’s 2023 and the ‘deconstruction’ of the historic church is in full swing. I don’t believe the Lord minds, nor is he bothered.

I have noticed a trend developing in the last decade. It began with the rise of postmodernism some 30 years ago. In that amount of time, a large part of the first world, most prominently America, has shifted from being considered a “Christian nation” to now being a “post-Christian nation”, evidenced by its values, laws, and actions. Church and faith, while once the accepted norm in society, have now become marginal, even unpopular.

Within this shift is the afore-mentioned deconstruction of the traditional church as we know it. Deconstruction is defined as “a method of critical analysis which emphasizes the internal workings of systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.” The process involves taking a thing apart and even re-defining it in new, more accepted terms. In the case of the church, deconstruction is happening for primarily two reasons: abuse and cynicism.

The first, abuse, is a horrible tragedy. Authoritarian leaders have gone unchecked in terms of sexual abuses and financial scandals, to name a few examples. The lack of oversight and accountability have caused countless thousands to be mistreated by the very leadership they trusted. Within any political, religious, or educational institution this can happen very easily, and the effects are destructive. In recent times many have been empowered and emboldened to speak out against these abuses; this is a good thing.

The second, cynicism, is both good and bad. It is helpful to look at the church with a critical eye when the abuse mentioned above goes unchecked. However, this can quickly turn into a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” scenario. Yes, bad things happen in churches; leaders are corrupt. But not all churches are bad nor are all leaders corrupt.

The result of the two reasons mentioned above, among others, is that the rallying cry of both unbelievers and believers alike is: “DOWN WITH THE CHURCH!” More and more, organized religion is being viewed as corrupt, irrelevant, and unnecessary. Those who once valued traditional church liturgy and gatherings are leaving en masse, instead choosing the solo path onward in their faith, if they still have faith. Social media has become a place of widespread commiseration as the de-churched collaborate and justify their own spiritual journeys away from what they once believed.

Sadly, these shipwrecks are often characterized by a mixture of leftover faith and a tend toward worldliness. The ‘once faithful but now free’ now blend in with the stream they once swam against, becoming careless in their ethics and wayward in their principles. An effort to escape what was (and may have truly been) a constraining and lifeless religious system has led them to swing to the other end of the proverbial pendulum and embrace revelry. In recent times millions have left the church and their faith in this manner.

What is left? Four things.

First, there is a large group of ‘deconstructed’ once-believers who have seamlessly blended into the world and now walk the wide road.

Second, there is another group of ‘deconstructed’ faithful who still hold to some remnant of their faith but practice it alone, apart from community, often cynical and suspect of any organized religion.

Third, there is a husk of the organized church that once was, still standing but weakened, still lifeless but alive enough to continue a religious game until the money runs out.

Fourth, there is a group of real people out there somewhere, still meeting, still trying to find God as they journey embattled along the narrow road on their pilgrimage to heaven. This is the less-popular way to life. Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish pastor who lived in the 17th century, said it this way: “Men come to Christ in ones and twos, and the journey toward heaven is not as easy as we think it be.”

If you’re reading this and find yourself in any of the first three groups mentioned above, be encouraged that hope is still alive and the truth of God is burning bright. There are still genuine, sincere people out there seeking the Lord in this dark time. Pray, press in, take a risk and find a safe place to rediscover your faith. The church has survived, even flourished, for two millennia, and the Lord knows those who are his. Be it postmodernism, deconstructionism, or the next bandwagon, nothing will prevail as the church founded on the rock of Jesus crushes the gates of hell and marches onward victorious.

This Week’s Calendar

Click above for a list of groups meeting this week.

Upcoming Events

We meet every Sunday at 10:00 am
to worship God together, and throughout the week in home groups all over the city. Please click the link to the left for a complete schedule of home groups.

Our Community

At VCC, we believe that church is not a function: it is a family. Our religion is only as alive as we are, the people that pursue it. So, rather than acting as an organization, we want to act as an organism. We have no time for casual contacts and meaningless formalities. We are a fellowship on an adventure towards the stuff of God. Church means worshipping God together, studying the Bible together, fixing our cars together, hiking together, eating together, playing together, praying together... enjoying the warmth of the Holy Spirit in all parts of our lives together, not just in appointed meeting times.