Summary: We must choose the Lord's church. There is only one. And that's the one we need to be a part of. We need to choose correctly and wisely. The choices we make in life are going to effect us the rest of our lives on earth and in the eternal hereafter.
Choosing a Church
The Christian Chronicle has recently reported that the number of Church of Christ adherents (members and their unbaptized children) continues to decline. Since 2003, the number is down 102,000 or 6.2%. During the same time, the number of congregations fell by 708, or 5.4%.
That’s not a “decline.” It’s a free fall.
The number of members hasn’t fallen as fast, meaning that we’re declining more rapidly among children and young couples. That’s a really bad sign, indicating that the rate of decline is likely to accelerate.
We’re having congregations close their doors at a rate of about 1 every 4 days – over 7 per month. We’re losing on a nationwide average about 35 adherents per day. That's 35 souls leaving the church every time the sun goes down. Tomorrow morning when we open our eyes and get out of bed, there will be roughly 35 members of the Lord's church who will never walk through the doors of a congregation of the Lord's church again.
Where are our youth going? There are only two possible answers to this question. They are either transferring to denominational churches or leaving Christianity all together. The trend is that the youth who leave Anti congregations are just dropping out of Christianity altogether while the mainstream churches of Christ are losing their youth to the denominations who offer more flash and excitement and less accountability for sin.
We should be concerned for our youth in this congregation. We have a substantial number of young adults in this congregation who are just a few short years away from being on their own. They are soon going to be making decisions that will be effecting them, their future spouses and their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren for generations to come.
When I grew up and left home to find my way in the world, encountered some circumstances in my life that tempted me to look to other churches in order to find my way. I was young and eager to live my life as I saw fit I thought I wanted something more than what I thought the church I grew up in had to offer. I wanted something more exciting, I wanted something different, I wanted something a little more accepted by the religious community in general. I hated it when people made comments to me like, "you are one of those people who don't use musical instruments" or worse yet, "you are one of those people who think you are the only ones who are going to heaven". When I was young, comments such as these bothered me. They bothered me because people who were not religious at all thought I was ignorant because I was a Christian, and people who were religious to a degree but members of other churches also rejected me as somewhat of a religious fanatic and a kook. As a young adult, rejected by both general groups of people, there was almost no support group I could turn to in order to find any companionship with. I attended some denominational churches and eventually just stopped attending church altogether for many years.
I eventually found my way back. Thankfully I was given the time to find my way back. Not every one gets that chance. We have all seen the little memorials set up alongside the roads the parents and others have lost their loved ones to accidents on the roads. We have all seen the news reports of the senseless killings of innocent people. We hear of soldiers dying overseas in attacks. There is no guarantee any of us will be alive this time tomorrow. It is unwise at best to wager your soul on the time you think you may have to get things right.
This lesson this morning is primarily for the youth but it has an application for everyone here. What we are going to do in this lesson is to pick out a church. Let's forget for just a while that we are setting in an assembly of the church of Christ and let's look at what the Bible says about this and let's just pick out a church to attend. Let's all pretend that we have never stepped a foot into any old church anywhere in our whole life and we want to choose one from out of all the choices there are out there. Since the Bible is the inspired written record of God's will for man, then we will let God tell us what He wants in His church by using it and only it to guide us in our selection. When we boil it all down to the basics, it doesn't matter what we believe, or how we feel, if it isn't in harmony with all the written will of God, then we are wrong and we need to adjust our thinking and our actions to what the Bible teaches.