The natural human response to any problem is to look outside of ourselves for answers to our problems.
Having anger issues? It’s the fault of those who are driving you insane.
Struggling with a drug addiction? It’s the fault of those who introduced you to drugs.
Husbands unable to stop watching pornography? The blame is put on their wives for not meeting their needs.
Whatever the issues are, we find tons of reasons outside of ourselves to explain away our problems. And the cause is usually not pinpointed to ourselves…
Or could it be that it’s extremely difficult to admit that the problem lies within ourselves, because it would mean that we are responsible for our actions and not others?
Same applies to the Slavic Christian Church.
We have struggled to find solutions for our problems outside of ourselves.
Here are 7 reasons we are responsible for turning young people away from our churches. (This list is not in order of importance, nor does it represent all Slavic Christian churches or all Christians).
1). Religious leaders – hypocritical Pharisees. We all have leadership roles within the church. Pastors, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, and parents. We all lead in one capacity or another. Nothing else brings more damage to the Christian faith than hypocrisy. We are God’s representatives. What does it mean to re-present? Anyone calling himself a Christian and who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, represents the teacher. Jesus uttered the harshest words of rebuke towards hypocritical religious leaders: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matthew 23:13). Be a leader that leads a life of moral integrity and do not be afraid to owning up to your own shortcomings and sins publicly if need be. Many church leaders erroneously think that transparency will somehow turn the young people away or make them stumble. By admitting to our faults and sins, we show that Jesus is the standard, not us.
2). Lack of love. Jesus said that others will know us as His disciples not by how well we can present our theological arguments against each other, but by how we love one another (John 13:35). Further, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is above all. Above knowledge. Above prophecy. Above faith. Even if I die as a martyr for Christ’s name but have no love, I’m nothing… We often push people away from Jesus because all they see is bickering and strife between believers. They don’t see any love.
3). Trying to be a god of our own making. What do I mean by this? We constantly try to force law and man-made rules upon everyone inside and outside of church. We actually believe that by forcing outward appearance rules upon the church members will somehow bring about a change in their hearts! And we use God’s Word to back this up by making statements like “what’s outside tells a lot about what’s inside.” We judge people by their appearances, their addictions, their brokenness, forgetting that we are all broken and in need of Jesus. Our job is to sow seeds. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict a heart for change.
4). Rating Sins. Unfortunately we do this all the time. The person who commits a “more heinous sin” – in our view – is gossiped about by “holier than thou” church members, who forget that gossipers are listed in the same list with murderers and “haters of God” (Romans 1:29-32). Instead of gossiping and gloating in another’s fall, learn how to lift that person up in prayer. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:42
5). Guilt-tripping those who are searching for answers or being hostile to those who doubt their faith. As long as there is life on this planet, people will continue to search for answers to life’s tough questions. Children grow up and start to reason and search for meaning. They will make their own choices. They will ask tough questions. We push them away when we either give them silence as our response or the more popular “take it by faith” response, making them feel guilty for asking anything in the first place. Even worse is when we make them feel guilty for asking those questions in the first place. “Always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15. RZIM is a valuable apologetics source: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
6). Being anti-science or anti-education. A view found most frequently at churches where the majority of the members are not educated themselves. They may be at a loss for answers to complex philosophical questions and, consequently, fear that the young people will find the “wrong” answers outside of the church in secular institutions of knowledge. Don’t be afraid of science. There are prominent scientists around the world who believe in the God of the Bible. James Tour is one of the top leading scientists in the world who believes in Jesus. The following is a link to his website, where you can find links to his lectures on science, faith, and evolution/creation: James M. Tour Group.
7). Sacrificing biblical truths on the altars of church traditions and Slavic heritage. No matter how much we try to teach our children our native language, we have to face the fact that they will never be proficient in it. Young people that are born and raised in the US, or those that immigrated to the States at a young age, will never be able to fully and exhaustively comprehend the language we are trying so hard to teach them (Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, etc.). The reluctance of the Slavic churches to incorporate English speaking services is understandable. However, exactly how far are we willing to go in order to keep the language and our traditions while our youth suffers? The Slavic churches experienced exponential growth during the immigration wave, which largely came and went away years ago. Presently, the Slavic churches are growing primarily through growing families or church members switching membership from one Slavic church to another. Are we carrying out the commandment to preach the Gospel to those around us? What impact does your home church have in the immediate neighborhood?
Perhaps it’s time to take a look within and admit that we are the ones responsible for some of our problems.
Perhaps it’s time to “humble ourselves” and cry out to God for a change in our own hearts. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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