It has been pointed out that churchgoers are joiners by nature. Church, as a volunteer organization, is filled, if it is filled at all, by people who are more than likely to be active members of at least one or two other organizations that depend on volunteers to get their work done. So what we see when we look at church attendance is what the members of other volunteer organizations see when they look around to discover who they can count on to get the job done. In short, there’s a shortage of volunteers.
There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that today people are far more likely to join a group that already includes their friends than they are to meet new people and make new friends by joining a group. If we’re not inviting our friends to come to church with us, that has a direct impact on attendance and the number of people in the church membership pool.
Hmmm . . . what to do?
Have you invited someone to go to a health club with you? Or a sports event? Or to Foxwoods? Or to any other place where people gather with their friends? If so, is it because of what people do in those places?
In a time when most people understand membership in an organization to mean that they write a check and mail it in rather than actually participate in anything an organization does, then what we do matters even more. As one veteran pastor put it, our priority today is “to persuade skeptics, doubters, searchers, seekers, and others on a religious pilgrimage of the truth and relevance of the Christian Gospel. Our second focal point is to transform believers, both old and new, into becoming disciples.” Why? Because there’s a BIG difference between believers and disciples. Believers accept the truth that, yes, there is a God, who came to us in the form of Jesus and left us with the Holy Spirit. But disciples take action based on and inspired by that belief. They can’t do otherwise.
To sum it up, it seems our friends need to see that we believe what we say we believe so deeply that it changes the way we behave and treat each other when we leave worship and that God influences the choices that we make – how we entertain ourselves, where we spend our money, what we do. Across the board, our faith needs to have a visible impact on our lives. Our faith needs to be so important to us that we can’t imagine not wanting our friends to be part of this.
It’s almost summer. Can’t this wait til fall?
What do you think?
See you – and your friends – in church?