Why do churches exist? Wherever society has a need, there’s an opportunity to earn a living by meeting that need. Where there is an opportunity to earn a living, inevitably somebody will discover and seize it. Mankind’s instinct to survive and prosper causes us to search out every conceivable niche. We can’t all survive doing the same job, so we’re forced to find new creative ways to earn a living. If a living can be made by selling fruit, designing webpages, moving furniture, being a pirate, poaching dolphins, asbestos removal, fortune-telling, kidnapping, chasing cars with Windex bottles, prostitution, dancing in the street, someone will do it!
One of mankind’s deepest needs is for truth and meaning. People have been seizing this opportunity for all recorded history. Churches exist because it is possible to make a living by selling purported “truth” and meaning. My point is not that all churches therefore teach lies, but that church existence and survival has nothing to do with being actually true or backed by God; if it did then only the true church would have survived. Because of the need for truth and meaning, a great number of people earn their livings by selling a great number of wildly different religious products.
The same is the case for any other need, like physical fitness; because of the need for fitness, a great number of people earn their livings by selling a great number of wildly different weight-loss products. Each seller wants you to believe you are overweight and unhappy, they have a superior weight-loss product, and you can’t afford not to purchase it. The pastor/priest wants you to believe you are lost and unfulfilled, he has the truth you need, and rejecting his product is equivalent to rejecting God. Usually the pastor genuinely believes these things however; he’s not intentionally trying to deceive people. Most pastors simply hold wrong beliefs, as is the case for any Mormon, Muslim, JW, Hindu, or Scientologist pastor, etc, the list is quite long. Non-Christians add Christian to the list, and exclude their own religion from the list.
Pastors are also aware of the economic forces surrounding their careers, but they maintain faith that their God is the real ultimate force driving their church. Earlier in life they were sold a religious product, and later they went on to sell some form of that religious product. Someone will buy their product, and go on to sell their own version. The career seats will continue to be filled in the name of God, but economics is the real force keeping pastors in a job. Churches exist because it is possible to make a living by selling purported truth and meaning. Rejecting the church is not rejecting God, it’s simply choosing not to purchase a product someone is trying to sell you.