Declining Church Attendance
Statistics reveal that church attendance is declining. Many problems are commonly cited for this decline including lack of commitment, not holding each other accountable, softening our stance on sin within the church and forsaking church services for other activities among others.
It seems relatively easy to find problems within the church, but finding the solutions to these problems is not as easy. We often discuss the woes of the church and where the world has gone wrong while never finding the solution.
Let's take a look at some of these problems.
First of all is the lack of commitment. There is no doubt that there is a lack of commitment all around us today. Employers are not committed to employees and employees are not committed to the employers. It is all about money for both sides. Few ever take a stance and make a commitment that involves less money. Always doing the greater good for ME has ruined commitment. Is there any wonder that we see a lack of commitment in our church congregations?
What about holding each other accountable? Should we be pointing out the sins of our fellow church members? Should they be pointing out our sins? How big does a sin have to be for us to point? What about the gray areas and yes there are gray areas or at least areas where denominations do not agree.
Now we come to the softening of the church and/or letting the world into the church. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean accepting same sex marriage, modern music (what is modern), instrumental music (which instruments), long hair or short hair (what is to long or short and is it male or female), jewelry (no wedding rings or just no piercing other than one in each ear and what about men), short skirts (how short is too short and who decides, what about women only wearing skirts), drinking alcohol (did Jesus not drink wine, or do we mean drunkenness, but what about our influence on others), smoking, un-married couples living together and the list goes on. If we sat down and thought long enough we could probably come up with a list as long as the list adhered to by the first century Jewish priests.
Is it our church that is softening or just other denominations? Or, is it the church as a whole?
How about other activities in place of church services? What would we do if our church held a service every day or perhaps twice a day? That would be great for opportunities to get together to worship and learn but would we have to be at all of them or be condemned to hell. Is the mandate three services, two or maybe just one each Sunday? What about only Easter and Christmas, could that be enough?
Let's look at this a little differently.
Do you and I have any of these problems, or are they all problems that others have? Oh yes, it's the other guy isn't it. Oh thank God, I'm clear; it's the other guy, the world out there.
Or is it?
I don't think so.
It is me!
I cannot control what others do; I can only control what I do.
What should I do?
Philippians 2:12-13 states, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
In Philippians 3:7-9 Paul writes, "whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
I cannot worry about what others are doing. I must focus on Christ and strive to draw closer to him and be more like him. The more we are transformed to be like Him then the more we will do his will. If we are doing his will then we are doing exactly what He wants us to do and then others will be drawn to him.
The following is an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:
"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change -So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world."
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