Top 10 Sins that are Destroying the Church in North America

by Mark Votava


I have been thinking a lot about some of the things that have disillusioned me about the church in North America.  Our typical models of church have frustrated me for years, but I cannot just abandoned my spirituality because of my feelings about the church.  I must mourn and dream for the church that could become something beautiful in our culture.  Here are the top ten sins that I think the church needs to face if we are going to embody something beautiful in our world:

1. The abandonment of local community.  We have abandoned a local way of life in pursuit of the “good life.”  We are destroying the world and abandoning our commitment to culture through the lack of investment we have in the local community we live in.  This is ignored as we do not seem to care very much about what is local and settle for the idea of “going to church.”

2. The refusal to live in proximity to one another and become neighbors in everyday life.  We do not want to become neighbors and face one another in everyday life.  We like our individualism and do not like any discussion of proximity to a particular place.  The idea of parish, a local community where you live, is despised when it comes to our ecclesiology.

3. Upward mobility.  We are more interested in our economic advancement and making money than being the body of Christ together in a particular place over time.  We have almost no vision for decades of rootedness in the place we find ourselves living.  We always want something better and move on after three to five years.

4. Consumerism.  We have abandoned simplicity.  We take high paying jobs so we can buy more things that we do not need.  We are not aware that working forty to sixty hours a week outside of our local community is making us useless because there is no faithful presence when this is happening in everyday life.

5. Patriarchy.  Women have become marginalized and ignored.  Men are seen as leaders while women are not and told they can’t be.  What a mistake that men do not realize the asset that women are to the church.

6. Embracing judgement to the world instead of love.  There is so much judgment from the church toward others in the world.  But we are called to lay down our judgment and embody love in our context in the world.  Without love the church is nothing and does more damage than good.

7. Dualistic thinking.  The sacred/secular divide is destroying the church.  We have lost the ability to see all of life as sacred.  The world is a sacred vessel of enlightenment, revelation and wonder.

8. The abandonment of practicing hospitality to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.  We do not like to open our homes, our tables, our lives to the poor around us in the world.  We have lost the wisdom of hospitality and have forgotten that Christ lives in the poor.  The lack of experimentation, practice and embodiment of this is making the church useless.

9. The refusal to listen.  We love to preach the gospel with words, but we do not like to embody a deep sense of listening to others and the local community we live in.  Listening has been ignored, undervalued and thrown to the wayside.  It takes too much work and time to truly listen in life.

10. Our arrogance in thinking we have all the answers for everyone.  We have become arrogant in thinking we do not have anything to learn from anyone else.  We have become know it alls and impose our prefabricated answers onto everyone around us.  This is colonial and abandons any sense of vulnerability on our part.

How can we dream of a church that does not practice these types of sins in our culture?  Do you think the church is destined to sin or is there something more beautiful to be embodied together?