No, this is not an ISIS-related call to arms, but a call to action.
What do I mean? Its this: Not only are younger people making headlines by their declining church attendance, but increasingly, Christians are switching churches or denominations. In Googling these trends, it is not hard to come up with alarming statistics for both. (Please take a moment to do a little internet surfing and you can see for yourself these concerning numbers.)
Its time for Christ-followers to fight these trends–enough is enough!
So, what are we to do? Two suggestions:
1) one is look to Jesus– In Luke 15, Jesus gives three redemptive parables about “the lost”. One is a parable about a lost sheep, one is about a lost coin, and the third is about a “prodigal son” who is lost. Each of the parables convey great concern over the lost. In one parable, the father anxiously waits for his son’s return and runs to him as he sees him returning from afar. In another, the person carefully searches their house looking for the lost coin. And in the last one, the person leaves 99 sheep to persevere in finding the one that got lost. Jesus conveyed the need to long for, concern ourselves with, and persevere in helping the lost and disenfranchised to return to Him.
For us, as individual followers of Christ and for, our leadership in our churches, the question needs to be asked: do we passionately concern ourselves with reaching out to those who are distant from God and from our churches? Do the things that break God’s heart, break ours?
Sadly, is there not more often than not an “oh well” kind of attitude that people are leaving the church or have never set foot in a church? Where is the “going after them” kind of mindset? Where is the passion?
2) I also see in each of the three parables –celebration. When we understand that someone is lost and has wandered from the faith, and has left our church, shouldn’t that grieve us? Shouldn’t the emptiness or dissatisfaction that a person has concern us to where we long to see them restored. Then, because we understand how empty a life can be without a relationship with God shouldn’t that stir us to want to celebrate as a group when someone is restored back to God and to our church? Are testimonies of people reconciled to God a regular part of your church —they should be! If the angels in Heaven celebrate when someone returns to the Lord, shouldn’t we follow their example? Our churches should be the most exciting places with frequent stories like these.