In my last post, I came down pretty hard on church people who complain that they are not growing in their church and use that as an excuse for leaving their church. I realize that the growth of many Christians really does stall. When that happens their church experience and even their relationship with Christ can become stale. Changing churches is awfully drastic. It disrupts your life, the church, and often damages the Kingdom of God.
Here are some things you can do to grow at the church you now attend.
o Find out whom the pastor is targeting with his messages and pray with him for those people. Who does he see as the people who your particular church has the best opportunity to reach? Those folks are the primary mission of your church. Now that doesn’t mean that others are excluded. It means that those folks are the center of the target. There is a biblical precedence for “targeting.” Jesus targeted the “lost house of Israel”, but He also healed the Syro-Phoenician woman, and told he disciples to go to all people. Also, Paul targeted Gentiles, but also reached Jews. Conversely, Peter targeted Jews, but he was the first to baptize a Gentile (Cornelius). Pray that your pastor’s messages will touch the targeted people at a deep level.
o Find out whom the songs target and pray for them. Also pray for the musicians that they will be able to keep the message and not the applause their priority. While you’re at it, ask God to help you enjoy the music more. If you don’t like it, or it is too loud, don’t complain to anyone except, perhaps, the music leader him/herself.
o Look into the eyes of the people who visit the church and newer members. Ask God to help you love them even if they are different in generation, different socio-economic status, or education level. Ask him to use you to be part of winning your neighborhood and the next generation
o Find out what needs to be done and offer to help in anyway you can. Ask a staff leader where you might fit in and how you can get trained to do it. Tell them you want to be on the team.
o Whether not the staff can help you find an “official” job, you can still be part of accomplishing the mission. You can warmly greet others, especially visitors. You can invite new people to attend your small group, Sunday school class, etc. Even if they never come, they will appreciate a sincere invitation.
o If you know that you need help to grow in the Lord, join or start a group or class that will go deeper in the study of the Bible. Ask the pastor or a staff leader for direction in this.
If you can’t be part of the team, do your church, the Lord, and your pastor a favor and find somewhere else to attend. However, before you do that think about how you will explain your leaving your church to the Lord. That’s a lot harder than explaining it to your pastor or someone at church, because God knows your heart. If your reasons are selfish He will know. If your reasons are valid you will know His approval.
Before you write off the leadership of your church and/or decide to leave, ask yourself these questions:
1. If the church changed to suit me would it be more likely or less likely to reach unchurched people?
2. Am I a customer at my church or am I part of the work force?
People complain about commercialism in the church and say church leaders work to impress the unchurched. Some of those same folks then choose to leave the church because the church doesn’t suit them. What they seem to want is for the church to treat them as customers. For the church to work as it should, church members should be part of the staff, not the customers. The customers of the church are people who need Jesus. When they put faith in Jesus, the process of customer becoming workers begins. The work people in God’s church are supposed to do is the great commission and the great commandments.
I have actually heard people say that the church should cater to them, because they give money. Well that’s consumerism. Our gifts to the church are just that—gifts. Some folks give to the church the way they pay dues to a country club. They think their offerings buy them the right to be served by the church and use the facility, and that the church leadership should put the social and religious needs of its members first. On the contrary the church must put the spiritual needs of those who don’t know Christ ahead of the religio-cultural needs of the members. We should expect, even require, that our gifts to the church be used to build the Kingdom of God.
On the other hand, if the reason you don’t feel like your are growing is because the church is not reaching people, then you do need to find another place where you can be part of the doing the mission. You need a place where you grow by serving and supporting the vision to reach your community for Christ. You are not to be a spectator. You are to be a stakeholder. You are to be a servant. You are to be a minister and missionary!