Ever seen how our churches are diminishing in membership size? All over our great land, we’re seeing the rise of the “Nones”-folk who are Christian yet are unaffiliated with a fellowship or denomination. We also have the “Dones”-folk who’ve kissed church goodbye altogether. I’ve covered these folk in a previous post, so I won’t belabor it.
However, it’s not always those on the outside that need consideration; how about those of us still on the inside? Many of your disconnected Christians are still in churches: whether in the pulpit, at the door ushering, or somewhere in between. These souls feel as if they no longer see Jesus at their places of worship; but just something to kill the time. These people usually love their fellow members and have a deep love for Christ; however these pour souls feel as if their church (or the Ecclesiastical Institution) is not stoking that love.
You see it in our churches: over emphasis of giving; pastors with fragile egos enforcing ridiculous rules (usually not Biblical); politics and personality; out of step with what’s really going on with the body’s life; etc… The sad part is that many churches don’t realize this until it’s way too late: declining memberships; people dropping out of leadership positions; conflicts among members; and in some cases, rejection of the Faith altogether. And if you’re out there saying, “Yeah, right….,” either you’ve been blessed with a great fellowship and God bless you, or your ass is asleep/in denial and needs to wake up.
Tonight’s Scripture is familiar to many in the Faith. The writer of Hebrews admonishing believers to continue coming together for worship. This is a verse many pro-church (institutional) people use to keep people coming to church. However, this was written at a time when many Christians felt that Jesus’s return was imminent and many in the Faith faced severe persecution from both Romans and Jews. Plus, people gathered in houses, not church buildings (for a least a few centuries). However, my take is that whoever wrote this piece never had to contend with Christians who feel disconnected from it all; who love the Lord yet feel adrift. Plus, Hebrews was always a questionable book for me-despite Chapter 11’s “faith” passages.
Time and again, the Church had to deal with disconnected Christians. In the past, pastors would “guilt” members back either with other (still active) members, or with Scripture. However today, we have more information thanks to the Internet that challenges the Church’s deep-seated beliefs; and a plethora of religious media that competes with face-to-face church going. Today, we see many of our young adults feeling disconnected-a group known for its energy. The same can also be said of the older crowd-the married with kids group known for stability (and tithe money).
And what’s killing church leaders is that the old “guilt trips” cannot work any more. Plus, with many elderly church members dying or retiring out of area all that good money ain’t visiting the collection plate anymore.
The Church today needs to reach out to the disconnected whilst they’re still in fellowship. It cannot afford to play around and just “pray over it”. Times are a changing and people are no longer tethered to their church. The Church needs to reach out and meet these souls where they are; despite the issue. Sometimes it just might take dialogue and good old Godly cooperation to work things out. It would be tragic that disconnected Christians detach themselves permanently from the Church altogether, and even worse, from Christ.
Disconnected Christians? They’re in a local church with you; or may even be you. Something to think about tonight.
(Image: Abandoned garage in Boonton Township, NJ. Image by Me).