Then they *came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry ]merchandise through the And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” ( Mark 11:15-17)
Let me state up front, this is not intended as a " beat up on the church" synopsis. For I truly love the message of the church. That being the full gospel ( 1 Cor 15:1-4). The message of God's "plan of Salvation" ( Ephesians 2:8-9) ( John 3:16). And the message of the comfort ( 1 Cor 2:10) ( Acts 9:310 and conviction of God's Holy Spirit. ( John 16:8-11) ( 2 Cor 3:18)
Yes. I want to see the true mission of the church return to reality, not just some statement of faith on a much forgotten web site. I want to see the church experience spiritual and physical growth, as individuals and collectively, in accordance with the holy scriptures. I want to see visitors, not just attend one Sunday and never return, but continue as a part of a local fellowship. ( Hebrews 10:25)
I have been fortunate to have taken part in a variety of church service formats, for many decades. And the more I attend church, the more it seems that the churches are losing their parishioners .( 2 Timothy 3:9)
I can fully understand those extricated losses by means of death, age, sickness, job transfer, etc.
Nonetheless, what about those leaving church because of a myriad of dissatisfactions. ( 2 Timothy 3:9) When this happens, who in the church is responsible to approach these particular individuals, in an effort to reconcile these differences, be they differences of a real or fabricated nature. (Romans 14:19)
It's amazing that when a long standing loyal church member leaves the church, it always seems that it was the defectors fault and not because of any particular faction of the church.
Often times the "order of service" seems to be geared to a particular age or demographic group. This mistake should be avoided, at all cost. The purpose of the service is to include all attendees. The Apostle Paul was a master of pleasing the mixed audiences of Jewish and Greek dissent. ( 1 Cor 10:32) On occasion, He would even count on his young trainee in the faith , Timothy, to help him out. ( 1 Timothy 1:3)
Never forget the young people, for they are the church of tomorrow. Where there is no young people, the church will quickly perish. You see, we "old folk" will not be around forever. Try getting the young ones involved in the service. ( Proverbs 22:6) Have a youth Sunday, whereby the youth actually take over the service. Allow them to say a brief simple prayer, read the scripture, assist with the offering or even lead a song on occasion. Oh yes, they will often fail in their endeavors, but when this happens just give them a hand clap of love and continue on.( Matthew 19:14) I can still remember many a pleasant memories, growing up in the church, when we young people would take over a service on any given Sunday.
Not only has the church forgotten the youth, but it is not giving the meat of the gospel (1 Cor 3:2), to sustain us "older folk" when we go out into this troubled evil world.( Hebrews 5:12) I once heard an "old time religion" Deacon state, " it's not the sweet-by-and- bye, but it's the nasty now-and-now that I am worried about".
Maybe the church has a leadership crisis ? I don't necessarily mean the pastor, as the pastor can't do it alone. If the church is to survive, it must grow leaders who can meet the personal needs of its parishioners. ( Exodus 18: 21-26 ) It seems that the church has developed most of its programs around “come here" rather than " go there". The church must go meet the congregations needs. Designate leaders who will go outside the walls of the church and meet people where they are hurting and “The Church” will grow. ( 1 Timothy 3:1, 7)
Is the church too big ? Now just wait a minute. First the church is losing members and now it's too big. All churches, regardless of size, should be a place in which all ages may feel warmly welcomed. A good idea is to have small worship groups, aside from the structured worship service, whereby one can plug in with others of like needs and experiences.( 1 John 3:16-18) Pray that this will happen in your church, so that others will feel comfortable and not leave. ( Titus 3:14)
Good sound preaching is crucial for church growth. (2 Timothy 4:2) For example, a church may collectively be told to have faith, in all matters of life, without being given a good scriptural foundation on faith. (Hebrews 11:1,6) When this happens, and a member's faith seems to fail in troubled times, the discouraged member will most likely leave the church in search of sound doctrine preaching.( 1 Cor 2:5)
One key factor, of church membership loss, is disorganization. All factions of the church, especially the service format, should have a consistent clear purpose, or church members will either move to another church or slowly drift away. Some church circles may just call this "backsliding". (Proverbs 4:25)
One important factor in church growth is it's "visitors". Often times, an individual or family will visit a prospective church, in hopes of finding a warm friendly atmosphere, only to come away disappointed. Visitors should be made to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. No visitor should ever visit a church, without the pastor or a church leader, obtaining the proper information for a follow up visit or phone call.
Most churches have a good fundenmental doctrine of "What we believe" tucked away somewhere in the churches " By-Laws". So, why not preach it, reinforcement it and teach it from the pulpit. (Colossians 1:25) Subsequently, the congregation will have a firm scriptural foundation, when times get tuff, and times will surely get touch. Having a good scriptural foundation will tend to encourage members to stay with a well grounded church.
This new "best life is here", " name it and claim it", "every day is like Sunday", mentality will surely fail, as one gives in to this world's Satanic frame of mind.( Matthew 7:15) This attitude leaves very little room for the correction of depression, struggle or doubt.( 2 Timothy 1:7) What happens then ? Fellow church members, when realizing the church has failed them, will then secede from the structured Sunday morning church service to the beach, the golf course, or the shopping mall. ( Proverbs 14:14) Life is not always " happy, happy, happy. ( 2 Cor 12:10) ( 2 Cor 12:10)
The church has traded a historic, objective gospel ( Ephesians 2:8-9) for a mind-set, based on achieving certain goals by just following a matrix of "new age" life strategies.( 1 Timothy 3:2-5) And then, we wonder why the church is losing its members. If the church is simply a place to achieve a better life style within the community, then it doesn't need a crucified Jesus to redeem mankind from your inbred sins.( Romans 5:12-21) One would need only to tune in the latest internet "social" media guidelines. Sad to say, this new gospel, of self help, saves no one. ( John 14:6) Thus church members then leave the church, given a more convenient choice. ( Acts 26:28)
In conclusion, does your church have a clear vision. A vision of physical expansion. A vision of membership growth. A vision of developing a good "praise and worship" team. A vision of mission support. And most important of all, a vision of seeing poor lost souls being sent to a Devil's hell. (Romans 2:6-8) If so, it's very important that these projects be followed through. Not following through will cause existing members to doubt the church's objectives and discourage prospective members from joining the church.
So what are you, as a member of the body of Christ, doing to grow your local church. Just a hint, please read how the first church prospered. ( Acts 2:41:47)
Author's Post Note:
One need only to surface the internet, to find any number of reason why people leave the church. However, most of the articles are written by pastors, not descending church members. It is unavoidable--people will leave your church, sometimes for valid reasons ( Psalm 92:12-13) ( Psalm 52:8), sometimes not. ( Colossians 4:14) ( Philemon 1:24) ( 2 Timothy 4:10)
When a close associate or friend leaves your church, it should never mean an end to your friendship. Pray that he or she will find a church that gives them spiritual growth. Simply ask God to "heal their spiritual heart and guide them to the right worship surroundings". By praying for that friend, God will not only enhance their spirituality, but yours as well.
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