I recently heard a statistic that blew me away. It concerned the Christian denomination of which I’ve been a member for the past thirty-six years. I’m changing the name to protect the guilty.
The average attendee of The Church of Our-Lady-Down-by-the-Gas-Station invites someone to worship once every thirty-eight years. Just allow that to sink in for a moment or two. Every thirty-eight years… I guess that means I’ll need to invite someone within the next two years to keep up with the Jones’s. (Just kidding. I think I’ve surpassed my thirty-eight year requirement.)
“Why do you keep going yourself?”
The whole thing is quite amazing to me (regardless of how accurate or inaccurate that statistic may be). It means that church folks aren’t excited enough about their own expression of faith to share it with others. My question to them is, “Why do you keep going yourself?”
Their answers are many and varied. Their excuses are lame (when they even have excuses). People show their true colors when they rationalize their lack of enthusiasm.
“Do you realize what you’ve just said?”
I’ll give you a perfect example. I’ve had many people tell me over the years they wouldn’t invite their adult children to their worship services. Why? Usually they say something like, “They wouldn’t fit in,” or “Our services aren’t what would attract them.” Really…
Do you realize what you’ve just said? You’ve just admitted that your worship is basically unimaginative, uninspiring, and/or uninviting. If that’s the case, I’ll ask again. Why do you keep going yourself? Worship styles (as well as congregational cultures) can be changed. Does your congregation have to get old and die in order for it to grow?
Furthermore, if your worship is so drab, boring, and irrelevant, whose fault is it? I know the immediate answer for most is either, “The Pastor’s,” or “The leadership.” If that’s your answer, then I will quickly tell you this. You’ve abdicated your responsibilities. Your pastor and leadership can only do so much. You’re wearing them out with your unreasonable expectations.
“I wouldn’t invite my next door neighbor.”
Here’s another example. “I wouldn’t invite my next door neighbor.” Why? The answers to this one are myriad. “I don’t want him to see me like that,” or “I don’t like him,” or “He’s a nice guy, but he’s not our type.” There are many more, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone.
There’s an old saying. If you find the perfect congregation, don’t join—you’ll ruin it. The church is a very imperfect, human institution. We should be constantly changing, growing, and evolving to fit the times, the culture around us, and the needs of our neighbors (anyone remember the Good Samaritan?). We don’t need to jettison our principles and ethics to do so. Some of our stale traditions might suffer, but those can be “small taters” compared to the souls that could be won to the Kingdom of God.
If you aren’t interested enough to invite others, maybe some change is in order. That change may have to begin in your own heart.