Wednesday, December 2, 2020by Reverend Dan on December 2, 2020
"So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I will spit you out of my mouth."
Over the last few years, lots of preachers (including yours truly) have been bemoaning all that the church has to “compete” against. We personalize it, and resent it, and complain about the “things of the world” that are impeding the growth of “our” ministry. The problem is, when we start to believe it is me versus the world, we waste a lot of time fighting false enemies that we can’t change and ignoring the real problem.
First, we have to stop blaming other churches for “stealing our sheep”. We forget that we’re all part of the Church (capital “C”) and not a bunch of independent little churches (little “c”). It’s not a competition. We’re all in this together. Sure, the pandemic has folks attending other places, but that may be because another church has a bigger on-line presence and it’s easier during this whole mess. We need to stop “blaming” the mega-churches for “taking our members”, and the same with the little family country church down the road. Maybe their style of worship is more suited to those people. Maybe their youth group offers things ours doesn’t. Maybe the other church has a ministry that speaks to those people in a deep and personal way. Whatever the reason, celebrate what God is doing through other churches and focus on what it is that we do and make it the best it can be. The ones who go to other churches shouldn’t be our primary concern. They’re going somewhere and that’s all that matters. It’s the one who don’t attend any church we should worry about.
Second, we have to stop blaming the “temptations” of the world. You know, travel athletics, brunches, stores that open early on Sunday, the lake, the beach, the mountains. There is 0% blame to be put on them. They’re not the issue. It is the people who choose those things over church. Priorities of individual members are not a reflection of the church; they are a reflection only of the priorities of those individual members. If churches worked as hard at discipleship as they do at getting new members, these things wouldn’t matter. It’s not enough to get people in the door. We need to get them connected in a deep and passionate way to the Gospel. If someone chooses another opportunity over the Christ who died for them, that’s on them, not the church.
Third, and this one cracks me up. We do NOT compete with the weather, regardless of what the self-proclaimed “attendance experts” say. “If the weather were better, we’d have better attendance. It’s a chance of snow, no one’s coming. It’s raining, people don’t want to come out in that. It’s a beautiful day, people are headed to the beach.” So, it seems the best way to increase attendance is for every Sunday to be overcast, not raining, cool but not cold . . . just miserable enough for folks to say, “Ok, can’t do anything else, so let’s go to church.”
What do I think the real problem is? The same problem the church has always had. Indifference. Church isn’t the first thing on the minds of the people. And if it does cross their radar, the value it has in their lives isn’t high enough for them to drop what they’re doing and come. Indifference has been the enemy of every church all throughout history. So much so that John wrote about what God is going to do with churches who are indifferent.
Make church a priority. It was enough of a priority for God that the first nails driven to build the church were through the hands and feet of His Son.
"Father, Focus our hearts on serving You. In Jesus' name, AMEN."
In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.