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Chuck Colson, who died on April 21, wrote Christianity Today's longest-running column. His colleague Timothy George will continue Contra Mundum in our September issue, the 27th anniversary of Colson's first column. Please see our editorial and biographer ...

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Tim Childs

June 10, 2012  9:17am

I've been a (on-off) Christian for over 30 years in England, but never been to a church! English Christianity can be elitist and 'cliquey' and frankly seems to be aimed at rather nice, genteel and suburban middle class people who seem to have it all together, and might look down their noses on a working class city boy like myself, who can be socially awkward and tongue-tied sometimes. What's the answer? We need to get back to the Gospel, to the message of the Bible, and understand why Jesus literally came down to earth; for our salvation, for a better life in the here and now, and to be reconciled to one another. Aren't Christians, all Christians, meant to be brothers and sisters in Jesus? If so, why are churches more like a social club, and elitist? This is why people are put off churches in England, and why I have yet to find a church myself, even though I try to serve the Lord with all my heart on a daily and on-going basis.

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Mirriam Kimani

June 09, 2012  3:06pm

if you are interested in furthering this conversation Paul. I know that many people may be reading this and thinking, "Why does she even care? Their loss." However, this is kind of my thing. I'm all about helping. I'm all about look at the disparities and finding a solution. My heart is for Christ. I tend to want to protect everyone that I come across. I try to see the good in everyone. If someone is lacking or unfulfilled, I want to know how I can be instrumental in pouring into that individual/s. That's what we're here for right? That's why God called us right? That's why He chose us to further His kingdom right? So if I'm going to be truly instrumental in furthering God's kingdom, which includes helping others to understand, then i have to do stuff like this. Paul, I do hope that I have said something that both you and your wife really take into consideration what I said. I am praying for you. If anyone else needs to make use of that email address feel free to. Be Blessed!

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Mirriam Kimani

June 09, 2012  3:00pm

to the rest of the responsibility. However, if we aren't interacting with the body, we are malfunctioning (Refer to Romans 12 & 1 Corinthians 12). I was just teaching this morning and telling the group that I was working with to think about how hard it is to compensate when you hurt one of your extremeties (twist your ankle, break a leg, arm, or finger, sprain a wrist, etc.), you have to find a way to compensate for what that extremity is unable to do. It's the same way in the body of Christ. From what you have said, I basically hear that there is something that is missing in the church that's often not thought of. There's potential for great ministry there. What if that unfulfilled need that you all see is a need that you can fulfill? What if that is a malfunctioning part of the body that you can be instrumental in correcting? I don't have a concrete solution for you & your wife, but I have many thoughts. You &/or your wife can feel free to email me (mk112887@msn.com) anytime (TBC)

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Mirriam Kimani

June 09, 2012  2:49pm

What about those that also feel that there is a great disparity within the various churches? Maybe there is a niche for you and your in ministry based on that very thing. I would encourage you to find somewhere that you can fit in and use what you have been deprived of as a way to be able to minister to the needs of others. Does that make sense? I'm not attempting to shed a negative light on you, but I empathize with the situation that you and your wife have found yourselves in as it relates to the gathering of the saints. That's a hard situation and very upsetting. I urge you to find a place where you can receive more. No offense to any specific denominations, but I just believe that there are different places of worship because the individual needs are different. It is important to be somewhere that you can receive what you need. I also want to remind you that the church is not the physical building, it is the body of Christ. Every part of the body has a responsibility (TBC

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Mirriam Kimani

June 09, 2012  2:42pm

@Paul Hubert: I both hear and understand the point that you are making. However, I would urge and your wife to continue to look for a place where you can find true fellowship with saints, with like-minded Christians. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." This scripture speaks to the responsibility that we have to one another by assembling. I would like to encourage you to research the term Koinonia (which refers to fellowship) and its importance in the scriptures. I understand that you have not yet been fulfilled in your search so you don't see a need of you going. What if the need for you to go is to contribute in the way that you feel you have been neglected. You and your wife don't have children. What about other couples that are very similar to you? (TBC)

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DJ Castilleja

June 09, 2012  10:29am

This is my first article to read from Christianity Today. I am saddened that one fine they must criticize other believers. We have a real enemy out there... criticize him.

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Mirriam Kimani

June 09, 2012  12:04am

their mouths, but states something completely different with their actions. The question for me is, "Why are you attempting to discredit him, instead of joining him in spreading the truth?" So many leaders have actually became like the Pharisees. There are "Christian Leaders" who are just like Saul before his experience on the road to Damascus leading to him becoming the Apostle Paul and doing GREAT things for the kingdom of God. Many things havae simply become political and that's what religion without relationship is. Why aren't we trying to get this challenge out to the world instead of talking about what's SO WRONG about it? The only reason that I could think of for people challenging this would be that they are guilty of some of the very points that he is making in this video. Get out of the box. Go back and look at the lyrics. If you feel convicted by what he's saying, then ask God about how you make you're on track towards the mark instead of completely missing it.

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Mirriam Kimani

June 08, 2012  11:59pm

The challenge is to get back to true ministry. The challenge is to get back to doing the things of God. The challenge is to stop going to church services just to say that you showed up and that you were there. The challenge is to go into the hedges and highways and compel men to come, which by the way can only be done if your life is reflective of Christ. The challenge is for us to go back and adapt the attitudes that Apostles had of we will do whatever it takes, give up whatever it takes, in order for people to know who Christ is. This video in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM promotes leaving churches, but it promotes becoming who you say that you are. It promotes representing Christ ACCURATELY. It promotes looking like your father. Stop bashing this true man of God that is doing nothing, but speaking the truth. Do you know why many youth and young adults identify with this, because it's real. People are tired of looking at older generations that promote and say one thing out of (TBC)

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Mirriam Kimani

June 08, 2012  11:54pm

What this article says is actually quite bothersome to me. I have heard this video, multiple times, and I have even taken the time to actually look specifically at the lyrics ( http://rapgenius.com/Jefferson-bethke-why-i-hate-religion-but-love-jesus-sp oken-word-lyrics ). I am both shocked and appalled that somehow people are getting out of this message that Bethke is encouraging individuals not to go to church. No. That is not what is taking place in this video. Bethke IS IN FACT encouraging individuals to have a true RELATIONSHIP with God. You can have Religion without Relationship. That's one of the major problems. He's saying that if you walk into/ look into some of the physical churches here today, you would find that the mission of God is not being accomplished. You would find in some churches that the work that was started by Christ, worship in Spirit and truth (as He told the woman at the well), is not being furthered. This video is a challenge to the Body of Christ (TBC)

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Geoffery Bennett

June 08, 2012  2:22pm

Richard. I've watched Jefferson Bethke's video a couple of times. I never once thought he was tearing down the body of believers. He's speaking against an "institution" that has been created in western Christianity that we call "going to chruch". It's not an "us vs them" as you suggest. It's a "let's get back to focusing on christ". In reality, doing that may look very different than the current practice of church institutions. The institutions need to take a long hard look at how they do business and ask themselves if they are indeed running their ministries like businesses. If the answer is that they are, then I can't see how that is biblical. If a church runs it self like a business it will be judged like one and will succeed or fail by the standards of this world. If it runs itself from the principles of the kindgom of God, I can't see how it will fail

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RICHARD L JONES

June 08, 2012  1:56pm

Karen Yates, you say, "I'm bothered and angered by this article that tears down a young influencer and evangelist like Jefferson Bethke. He is one of US. He is seeking to win a whole generation of young people so disgusted and DISinterested in Jesus and our faith." Young influencer? Influencing for what? You say he is "one of US". Who exactly is US? I thought the Church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be one body, in one Spirit. You say Bethke is seeking to win a whole generation of young people. Win them to what? If the purpose is to win young people to Jesus, it should NOT be done by tearing down the Church and others in the body of Christ! In essence Bethke is doing exactly what he claims to be against by creating an us vs. them polemic. Instead of becoming part of an ecclesia, a true gathering of saints, and being faithful in the little things there, all I see is a generation that wants it all, wants it THEIR way, and wants it NOW! Sounds more like a bunch of immature babies to me!

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Mark E

June 08, 2012  12:22pm

Paul Hubert, why go? Cuz that's what God wants us to do. You don't have to be a part of a particular denomination or congregation, but we need to have a committed group of believers that we can be a part of. I love and seek after truth, but that is not the goal of Christianity except in the way that Christ is "the truth." It is part of the journey, but not the goal. A more general response would be that almost all of these type of articles or the ones that talk about young people leaving church talk about how these people don't "get" what they want from church. Some of the issue is that we go to church thinking it is about us. As long as this is true we'll never get anything worthwhile from it.

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Karen Yates

June 08, 2012  11:54am

I'm bothered and angered by this article that tears down a young influencer and evangelist like Jefferson Bethke. He is one of US. He is seeking to win a whole generation of young people so disgusted and DISinterested in Jesus and our faith. And he is doing it through a medium that works. In his video he says he loves the Church. After receiving criticism he reiterated again publicly that He loves the church. But still you {once again} cut him down "we only wish he would have been clearer from the start." I was privileged to see the leaders at Catalyst lay hands on this young man and pray over him and the platform and ministry he's been given to reach young people. This was a beautiful, unifying example of the Body spurring one another on. And a far cry from what you wrote in this article.

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Bob Bobo

June 08, 2012  11:49am

I think this is a very good commentary bringing balance to this issue. Except, you blame "B" for not clarifying from the start. Listen, most well taught believers know the church on earth is "people" gathering in Jesus name, and do not want to "divorce" that. But, Thank God for "B" for getting the discussion started. As these posts prove, many follow Jesus, but reject the organized, judgemental, success oriented church. I don't but I have had a hell of a time finding a group of beleivers who/who are concerented about being the church rather than having church. Seems CT wiriters on this subject have been panicking trying there best to "clarify" so as not to see legions of people leave the church. Listen folks, we have churches that are Biblicaly sound (and define that of course), and many that teach you can live anyway you want and its ok with "buddy christ"! Either way, give the "B"man his due!

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Paul Hubert

June 08, 2012  11:23am

"liminal"?? My wife and I no longer attend church. And I don't see it as having anything to do with being unwilling to 'subordinate [our] desires'. I was raised Lutheran, became atheist after reading and following Ayn Rand in high school, came to Christ at 21 'on my own' but 'around' Pentecostals, joined a Conservative Baptist congregation with my parents. My only interest before being saved was (absolute, foundational) Truth, introduced to me BY Ayn Rand. My only interest after being saved is knowing God and following Him. My wife's views are very similar. We're both loners and neither of us relates to most social conventions or social activities. We have no children and little family contact, and most churches are geared primarily to either singles or families and seem to try to deliver spiritual benefit through social events. WE find little substantial content in most pastors' sermons and so gain little if any benefit from them. WHY GO?

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David Richardson

June 08, 2012  11:15am

Allen Wayne is correct. Jesus was shown the magnificance of the Temple and he in turn prophesied of it's destruction. Stephen angered the debaters of the Law to the point of killing him...for speaking against the Temple and preaching Jesus. Ephesians tells us that we are the tabernacle of God - a habitaion through the Spirit, even in eternity there will be no Temple there (Revelations). It's amazing how we define the Church as our individual buildiings - every single one of them will pass away like the Temple, but the Church never dies. Those of us that promote insitutions for the sake of gathering members to help build the structure and programs...that's not the purpose of the Church. I understand what this young man is saying - no the solution isn't mentioned, but it's time someone recognized that there is a problem.

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Steve Skeete

June 07, 2012  10:44pm

I must confess to being one of those who would be unable 'to pick Jefferson Bethke out of a lineup'. I first heard about his rant through CT and have no particular interest in hearing it first-hand. The truth is, I have heard it all before, the 'Love Jesus, hate the Church' speech. That it garnered 'ten million hits' shows that it does not take any real ability to become a 'celebrity' in contemporary culture. When I think of Bethke though, it reminds me of a joke I heard about Groucho Marx. The story goes that Groucho joined a club in which he never participated. So he sent in a letter of resignation. On receiving a response from the club’s president wanting to know why he had resigned, he is quoted as replying: 'Because I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!' One interesting thing that I have discovered about Christianity is that those on the outside of it, always seem to know more about it than those on the inside sincerely seeking to live the life.

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RICHARD L JONES

June 07, 2012  10:23pm

To quote the article: "It is difficult not to suspect that at root, many liminals want the benefits of tradition and community without having to subordinate their desires to a larger whole." BINGO! That is the issue with Millennials. Typically they want all of the benefits and none of the responsibility. The fact that this video went viral does not mean it shows the problem with the Church, nor does it provide a single answer. What it clearly shows me is the immaturity and selfishness that exists within a post-postmodern generation, which has begun to saturate much of the Church. This is in large part due to an increasingly secularized educational system in our Western culture that has attempted to tear apart the fabric of the Scriptures, and sow it into a fabric of suspicion and doubt concerning anything that might hold someone accountable for their own actions and behaviors. In essence they have made themselves little gods. God have mercy on us all!

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Allen Wayne

June 07, 2012  5:45pm

I think you will see another movement like the Protestant Reformation in the future, some argue that it is already happening, people aren't abandoning the Church , they're abandoning the insitutions/corporations that call themselves churches.

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Geoffery Bennett

June 07, 2012  2:52pm

Agreed. I think the author has missed the point as to why the "liminals" are not commiting to a particular church. The conversation appears to be coming up again and again but there is a lack of finger pointing at churches and how they conduct themselves. One might seriously ask whether or not you blame liminals

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