If you've ever watched Family Feud you're familiar with the phrase, "survey says." The producers of that show survey audiences and rank the answers to some often rather ridiculous questions. So let's play a little "Church Family Feud" for just a minute. Here's the question - "Why are church members attending worship less frequently?" Unfortunately, I don't have the answers ranked in any particular order, but here are the top 6 answers according to research done by Thom Rainer.
- they are more mobile
- they are more affluent
- they have more options
- they consider church optional
- they have not been challenged
- they are likely not active in a small group
Obviously some of these answers run together ... the more affluent are much more mobile and have more options of things to do other than attend worship on Sunday mornings. But other answers reflect the condition of the heart ... often the heart of the leadership of the church itself! If a church member hasn't been challenged, considers church involvement to be optional, and isn't active in building relationships and studying God's Word in a small group then it says something fairly negative about the leadership of the church. (Yes, I realize I'm speaking of my own inadequate leadership here.) I suspect few believers would actually say that involvement in the body is optional, but it sure plays out that way in practice doesn't it? And yes, this lack of participation often is a fruit of the lack of personal commitment to the Gospel, but in many ways it also likely reflects the commitment and passion of the church leadership.
Why am I writing this and pointing out a potential flaw in both the membership and leadership of the church? Refer to #4 above ... "they have not been challenged." Though a blog post such as this can't be considered sufficient to challenge believers in their walk with Christ, it's certainly a part of the process. I certainly need to do a better job of personally challenging the leadership of CPC to be more active and aggressive in ministry. The leaders (elders, deacons, ministry heads, etc.) need to be more active and aggressive in their roles. And all of us must take more seriously the implications of what it means to be identified as a follower of Jesus Christ.
But what's our motivation to do this? What will move us toward greater and more passionate involvement in the body of Christ? It's the Gospel ... the fact that Jesus lived the life we should have lived, that He died the death we should have died, that He rose again from the grave to secure for His people a home in heaven with Him for eternity. It's the amazing truth that though we are far greater sinners than we think we are, we are simultaneously far more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we could ever dare imagine. So perhaps Rainer gathered the answers that people gave, but I think he missed the bottom line answer = we no longer believe the Gospel. Morality, commitment, zeal, programming, dedication, re-dedication, being serious, proper scheduling, being challenged, etc. isn't enough ... Jesus is!
Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 - "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." This is the Gospel ... this is our motivation ... this is what should propel and motivate and move us to be an active part of His family and regularly worship Him. Have you bathed yourself in the Gospel today?