Recently, I was perusing the more astute pages of Facebook when I ran across this quote. “The Body of Christ will not become mature while 99.9% of its members are passive pew sitters. We need every part to go live out its created purpose and contribute to the overall wellbeing of the body.” ~Oliver Day~
I was struck by Oliver’s comment for a couple of reasons. The first is the percentage he chose. As a pastor of some thirty-five years, I’ve seen my share of “passive pew sitters” (if I correctly understand his terminology). There are certainly a number of people who merely want to be observers of the festivities for whatever reason.
“We’re in much bigger trouble than I had imagined.”
I don’t know the actual percentage of such folks, but I sure hope it’s not anywhere near that high. I don’t know Oliver, so I’m going to venture a guess that he was exaggerating (at least slightly). If he wasn’t, we’re in much bigger trouble than I had imagined (depending on his accuracy). Regardless, it certainly speaks to a rather low view of the majority of churchgoers.
The second reason his statement struck me is his feeling that every person in the proverbial pew must live out their part for us to be mature as the Body of Christ. I really hope he’s wrong about that. It seems to me we’re never going to have 100% cooperation from even the most mature members of the Body. It’s called being human.
I might be taking his thoughts out of context (primarily because there was no context given). Still, the Body of Christ here on this earth is never going to be pure. We are, after all, a human institution—even if we are a spiritually directed group. The Lord often seems to use imperfect and impure people to do his work. Even a cursory reading of Scripture will bear me out on that one.
Still, I fully understand Oliver’s sentiments. It must be extremely frustrating for someone who is totally committed to the Lord’s work to see so much passivity. It would be exasperating to be surrounded by others whose zeal is limited to something less than God’s will.
“There are now just as many Christians outside the buildings…”
A lot of people have left the institutional church because of such passivity. I’ve heard there are now just as many Christians outside the buildings we refer to as churches as there are within those hallowed halls. Many of them left, not because they no longer believed. They left because they felt like they were the only ones who cared.
There was an old soap commercial many of you may remember (I think it was Ivory). It stated that the soap was “ninety-nine and 44/100ths percent pure.” I always found that to be a bit hard to accept, but maybe it was true.
Today, many people like Oliver are saying that the church is now ninety-nine and 44/100ths percent impure. I find that just as hard to accept, and I sure hope THAT isn’t true.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]