I’ve seen too many people walk out the Church doors, leaving their faith behind. This deeply saddens me.
The reasons for this exit can so often come down to this: some love Church without loving God, whilst others love God without His Church.
However, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Our faith begins when we accept the Father’s love and we therefore love Him who first loved us. Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her”. As Christians, we also ought to love the Church that Christ died for and be as passionate as He is for His Bride.
Fellowship is often the hook which pulls people into Church. We find family in a place where we belong, and belonging can be crucial in the journey of a person finding their faith. Where we belong we are comfortable, and where we are comfortable we can be ourselves. Our love for Church can focus on the music and worship, and others benefit from an encouraging message which inspires them to be and do better and make a difference in their world. Some people simply love the opportunity to be in a safe and warm environment where they are welcomed and loved.
If these are the only reasons that a person comes to Church, they’ll receive temporary satisfaction as they love what we do, not why we do it.
It is only when people grasp and love why we do Church will they experience the true love of God and be able to stand firm in the midst of a storm. It is then the Church’s responsibility to disciple these people into understanding who Jesus is. This will create the best possible opportunity of them having raw and authentic faith that they can rely on in times of uncertainty and chaos.
The flip-side of this sees people who have a strong relationship with God but don’t fully engage with church. Sometimes can see people taking offence with Church because of their personal hurts. It is incredibly frustrating to see churches divide when own personal agendas can’t be laid down in order for the Church to progress. Often someone’s passion for church fades away when the focus becomes about what they can get out of Church instead of our mission. We need to reclaim and reorientate the truth that church should not be compassed to the needs of its members but the needs of the lost it seeks to reach.
If we’re to buck the trend and see less people leave Church or their faith behind, we need to be committed to discipling these people so that they experience spiritual transformation.
Here are three simple and practical ways in which churches can help disciple these people:
- Be part of a small group – these help people during the week to be encouraged and prayed for, helping reveal more of Jesus through the Word.
- One-to-one mentoring – someone within their small group could regularly meet up with the person to go deeper and discuss things which are necessary but not always appropriate within a small group
- Do life together – we need to spend time with Christians outside of a Church context. Whether that’s going for coffee, playing sport, going to the cinema – sometimes the best conversations happen in very natural environments where people are doing something they enjoy. Often the best ministry happens not through programmes but through ‘doing life’ with one another.
These suggestions will never solve every problem, but can be a great initial strategy for having churches full of both God and Church loving Christians.