Summary: “Lost people” have done a cost-benefits analysis and have determined that they do not get enough positive benefits from church participation to merit their continued involvement.
MEMBERSHIP IS NOT AN OPTION
Why do some people who have grown up in the church or having started out so well after being saved as adults run aground or drift away from the Lord? What lures them away? What compels them to leave the church? And why is it the Church in America is having difficulty keeping new converts?
Overall, I think it’s because the Church is no longer relevant to current and new generations. It has diminished the importance of interpersonal relationships and at the same time failed to capitalize on the practical benefits of membership in the local body of believers.
These “lost people” have done a cost-benefits analysis and have determined that they do not get enough positive benefits from church participation to merit their continued involvement.
85% of all non-churched adults in America consistently attended church at some point in their lives. In interviewing these people, it was discovered that if the church where they attended had understood them and ministered to them effectively, they would have stayed.
The Baby Boomer generation started a massive exit from our churches in 1991. Exit interviews indicate that most of them left because their churches promised more than they delivered. They did not truly find the relationships, the wisdom and worldview, or the personal benefits they had expected. They now view the church as irrelevant and disappointing. This is significant because the Baby Boomer generation represents about 42% of the adults who are not aligned with any church.
Listen, the old saying that the things that got you to where you are today are not the things that will get you to where you need to be tomorrow is true. As a Church we’ve got to change our structure significantly if we are going to remain both alive and influential to a lost and dying world. Jesus never told us how to do church – His attention was devoted to beliefs, values, relationships and behavior- what we call discipleship – He was not overly concerned about organizational structure.
Our Lord instituted the church, but he didn’t tell us how we were supposed to do church, and I’m glad he didn’t.
The world around us is changing at an unprecedented pace. What worked ten years ago is already obsolete; cultural analysts estimate that our culture essentially reinvents itself every three to five years. In other words, the core attributes of our society – language, customs, dress styles, dominant leisure pursuits, relational emphases, values, and the like are being substantially reshaped and reconfigured every few years.
Most American churches, however, are holding fast to programs and goals established by their charter members years ago.
Most American churches haven’t seen a new conversion in years. They are loosing members and closing churches so fast it’s making denominational leader’s heads spin.
We are in trouble church!
The spirituality of the average American Christian is in name only. We desire experience more than knowledge. We prefer choices to absolutes. We embrace preferences rather than truths. We seek comfort rather than growth. Faith must come on our terms or we reject it. We have enthroned ourselves as the final arbiters of righteousness, the ultimate rulers of our own experience and destiny. We are the Pharisees of the new millennium.
(Benefits of Membership)
My goal in today’s sermon is to help you see the benefits of membership in the local body of Christ.
Those of you who are not members need to ask yourselves, “So why should I become a member? What are the benefits to me?”
That’s a good question and I’m glad you asked. J
The greatest benefit is that it helps keep you committed to God. Commitment is a tough concept for Americans. We have trouble being committed to just about everything. We have difficulty committing to diets, exercise programs, systematic savings, paying our bills on time – we just have a hard time with commitment. As a whole, we can’t even stay committed in our marriages. Commitment requires an intentional investment of our time, talent and being.
Most Americans view church as a source of strength you draw from, not a reservoir of positive impact that you must also invest in. They come to take and rarely give. Oh, they give their money – but invest themselves? Now that’s a horse of a different color.
In Thursday’s Bible reading in Exodus 31:12-13 God established the Sabbath day. The Jewish Sabbath day starts Friday night at sundown and goes to Saturday night at sundown. During that time you were not to do any work, but to take time to rest, be with your family and pray and worship God. The Sabbath day was a holy day set apart for this purpose.
As Christians we are not required to observe the Sabbath day like the Jews, but we do take time and set it aside to rest, be with our family, our church family and to worship God. Most Christians, though not all, set aside Sunday as their special day of worship because it is the first day of the week when Christ rose from the dead.