The sermon this morning was pretty ironic. My Mom was driving me to church, and she and I were discussing the Armstrongs (see here and here for background information). My Mom said that she does not think that sort of movement could become popular nowadays, for people are jaded about religion. She also noted that televangelism has declined over the years.
And what was the sermon about? The pastor was lamenting that a growing number of people do not attend churches, and that the “none-of-the-above” category is becoming larger in terms of religious affiliation.
The pastor was sensitive to reasons that people do not attend churches: the politics, the arguments, etc. But he said that going to church is important because then people can put themselves in a position to experience a renewal by the Holy Spirit, the same way that the apostles in Acts 2 gathered together and were baptized by the Holy Spirit. The pastor envisioned this resulting in a wave of mutual love and understanding, as (to use an example) Republican Christians and Democratic Christians listen to one another.
I know that I myself would like to become a loving person, to be overwhelmed with a sense of peace and joy and a willingness to try to understand where others are coming from—-to be at a place where love is doable rather than being a difficult chore, due to my own insecurities. In some people’s case, however, they may feel that church sets them on the opposite path, with its politics, authoritarianism, closed-mindedness, etc. (and I am not referring to my church here, but to others’ experiences of different churches), and so they choose not to attend.