The tone our twentysomething generation has toward the Church is easy to notice. It’s not uncommon for me to read articles or hear people picking apart church doctrine, rules, views, actions, etc. I’ve heard that we are getting hung up on the technicalities of people’s lives and not truly loving them the way that Jesus said we should. It’s been said that we are judgmental, unaccepting, narrow-minded and out-of-touch. And well, to be honest, I agree with a lot of those accusations. I get frustrated that we seem to have a hard time loving people who are homosexual, or that we shy away from the problem of AIDS. In addition, we are too involved in our church programs, which make us “better” Christians, that we neglect those around us, who simply need some love or encouragement in their lives.

It’s easy to pull out the pen and paper and make a list of how the Church needs to be revamped in order to break out of the shell that many of us believe it’s in. Instead of pointing the finger as an explanation of why we aren’t where we should be as a body of believers, why can’t we all take part of the blame and admit that maybe, individually, we aren’t spending enough time with Jesus? Obviously our relationship with Him is a journey and a process, one that is constantly changing us and molding us into His likeness. There is a direct connection between our personal growth and the Church’s growth as a whole, and in order for the Church to grow in its effectiveness, we need to be growing in our alone time with Him.

The ineffectiveness of the Church may be a result of our substitution of personal God-times with other things. Some of the most dramatic changes in my life didn’t come from sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, nor did they come from reading the latest book, or listening to the newest worship CD. They came from spending some alone time with Jesus, just talking with Him and listening to Him.

Now hear me out; I’m not trying to say that listening to David Crowder is keeping you from God, or that Brennan Manning’s books can’t help your walk, and I’m definitely not saying that church stunts your spiritual growth. I love listening to worship CDs, I love reading books (I have six books sitting next to my bed right now waiting to be read), and I love going to church (even if there is the occasionally awkward “meet and greet” time). However, I believe that we have used these things as a replacement for our personal and intimate times of studying the Bible and hanging out with Jesus.

The books we read, the CDs we listen to and the sermons we hear are waysto get closer to God; there’s no argument there. Still, they are not our substitute for spending time alone with God, reading His Word and talking with Him. The CDs help bring us to place of worship to God, and the books can help explain who God is, just as sermons teach us about God and what He does in our lives. But none of them replace the time we are to spend being changed by God intimately.

I’m as guilty as anyone else, and I’m still learning how to keep my meetings with Him consistent. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m writing all this, so that it will sink down into me even more. I see that when I do make the effort, I have a better outlook on my daily situations; my view of others is readjusted, and I see myself from God’s perspective. Change is the result of spending time with Jesus, and that’s where I end this, with Him. After Jesus left this earth, His disciples took what they had learned in their three years of personal interaction with Him and transformed the world. Their intimate times with Him enabled them to affect others around them. Why would it be any different for us?