The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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Chapter 17

The Missing Majority

The failure of religion today is due mainly to a neglect of the local church. For one thing the majority of church members do not attend church. It is common for a church to have two or three times as many members as it has attendance on a Sunday morning.

The popular concept of the church as a universal, invisible body composed of all those who profess religion is well liked. Most church members are like this kind of church ... invisible.

The excuses that people give for not attending the services of the church are well known. There are some who say they do not attend because there are too many hypocrites in the church. Following this line of reasoning the father in the home should quit his job because there are many shirkers there. The children should quit school because there are so many delinquents. The mother should stop going to the grocer because so many bad cooks are shopping there.

The wife can always excuse herself from attending because her husband won't go. The husband can decline because his wife won't attend. If they happen to be together they can blame the children ... they just won't get up and go to church. If they are all present and can't blame one another they'll reach an agreement that they don't want to leave their dog alone.

The pastor making a call in the home to urge a family to attend church is likely to hear, "Well, pastor, I know I should attend but I don't want to make promises that I might not keep." The father knows he's going to work every morning and the children know they're going to school. The mother has club dates, committee meetings, etc. that she is going to make. They're sure about this, but church ... well, that's something else.

Then, there's the family that never attends church but always will declare they are going to get started one of these days. If all these folks got started on the same Sunday it would look like a double Easter! Some families when urged to attend church seem to take comfort in expressing their sentiment towards all churches.

"I believe in all churches,. They are all good," is the statement that is often heard. They believe in all churches and suppose that excuses them from attending any!

People seem to think if they take shelter behind some difficult theological question it excuses them from attending church. A pastor will be dealing with a man about the need of attending church and the man will reply by asking, "What is God going to do with the heathen?" The pastor could interpret this as the man's concern about his own spiritual welfare but he knows this is not the case. If the pastor gets by this question the next one is likely to be, "What about the 144,000?" The weary pastor thinks to himself, "I don't know but they sure weren't in church last Sunday."

The pastor usually has answers to all these stock questions that he never uses. For instance when someone asks, "Where did Cain get his wife?" he would reply, "It looks like you'd have trouble enough with your wife without worrying about Cain's."

Some very pious looking people will always excuse themselves by saying, "I'm not going to start until I am sure I can live it." This is like a sick person saying, "I'm not going to the hospital until I get well."

When invited to attend church some will decline by saying, "I attended church and Sunday School all my life up until a few years ago." It seems they feel they have already attended enough to, last the rest of their life. Closely related to this are those who do not attend now because their parents made them go when they were children.

A lot of folks always need Sunday to recuperate from the ailments that have plagued them all week and thus are never able to attend church. There are always those who will plead, "This is the only day I have ... to rest, to sleep, to play, to work at home, etc."

Some folks feel they are already as good as those in the church and consequently can't see any reason for attending. They would rather join the crowd outside the church than join with those in the church.

The attitude that supposedly religious folks take toward their church is a little confusing. They say everybody should attend church . . . yet never go themselves. They expect the church to be there when they need it ... yet never support it. They encourage the effort to seek new members for a church they do not attend. Parents want their children to attend the church even though they never go.

There is the old story of the minister who had been invited into the home of one of his members for dinner. The minister looked at one of the small children in the home and asked, "What are we having for dinner?"

"Buzzard," was the reply.

"Buzzard!," the preacher exclaimed.

"Yeah. I heard Mom say we were going to have that old buzzard for dinner," the boy explained.

The attitude of children toward the church, the pastor, and religion in general is formed by what they see and hear from the parents. Generally what they see and hear is a constant flow of belittling criticism.

All this has reduced the church to the status of standing around, hat in hand, begging its members, "Please, if you get a chance and you are not doing anything else, drop in and see us next Sunday. If you can't make it then, what about the following Sunday? No? What about Easter?"

The average individual gives the invitation of the church the same response they would a door to door salesman who rang the doorbell while they were taking a nap.

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