Friday, August 20, 2010

How Not To Grow Church Attendance

This is not a regular blog post. I just feel led to type this thing out and I think perhaps it is for someone with a church attendance issue or a church nagger to stumble upon but who knows?

You can be right and wrong all at the same time. Did you know that? How can this be? Well, to put it simply we can be doing our best to try to help someone in their spiritual walk with the Lord and be right in everything we say scripturaly but be completely wrong for even saying it in the first place. The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. I have seen a new meaning in that this week. Yes, I have seen that we can indeed KILL someone else's spiritual walk with our tongue.

I have been witness to a few people in the last few weeks being judged and nagged about their church attendance and their walk with the Lord. And, as an avid church goer myself, as in I go to all 3 services every week plus I teach the ladies Bible class every other Thursday so on those weeks I am there 4 times a week, and do you know what that means? Diddly, that's what it means in the big scheme of things. I do not have to attend that many times to be saved, sanctified, justified or have a close relationship with the Lord. If that were so, why do we even bother with missions in 3rd world countries where they have no churches? Hmmmm? Why are we even in Africa? Or China? What's the point?

I mean seriously, how long must Christianity be in existence before we get this stuff figured out folks? It just kills me when we put our own personal spin on what we believe and put it out there as theology and then blab out to people who we "want to help" by nagging them to death (Oh but sister, I am just pointing out what they need to be doing so they don't fall away. Um, no they will fall away because you are nagging them to death and now church is not a pleasant place to be and instead a place of negativity and condemnation. And, who wants to be in a place like that?). I know I don't want to be in a place like that! You know why I go so many times a week? Because I want to, not because I have to, but I WANT to. And, it took me many years before I wanted to do that. For decades I went on Sunday mornings only and did a little volunteering here and there and I didn't feel a lick of condemnation. You know why? I wasn't in the same place spiritually back then that I am in right now and you what? That's okay. It really really is. We all have such unique walks with the Lord. Why can't we as Christians accept that and stop trying to work things out ourselves and let God do it instead?

What does this mean exactly? Well, if I feel like brother or sister so and so is pulling away from the Lord the best thing I can do is pray for them and be an encourager by my loving actions when I do see them. The worst thing I can do is convene an inquisition every time I see them and question them as to where they were during the last church service that they were not at and then begin to list a slew of terrible things that can happen to Christians by beginning to pull back. I want to suggest that we actually trust God and His Holy Spirit to lead His people. I want us to trust in the fact that we can move mountains by prayer and petition. Before we begin to suggest to someone that they need to do something we truly need to hear from the Lord that He wants us to say these things. Should we call and check on those who have suddenly disappeared from the radar? Sure, they may be sick or just plain need to know someone missed them and loves them. I think that's great. But, I don't think it's cool to let someone know by a postcard or by comment that it was noticed that they were not at every service they miss.

I'm like, please show me where it says that if you do not attend every service you aren't right with the Lord! Good grief. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to have the opportunity to talk to a few of the people who have been condemned and nagged lately and convince them to either ignore and run hard away from the naggers or change churches all together. Alas, one of the people just plain won't go back to church. That's so sad to me, it really is. You know what else is sad about that? The person who did the nagging will never know the damage they have done. They have sinned also. They would tell me if they could that they are right I'd bet and quote a bunch of scriptures out of context. My favorite when I have this discussion with folks is where they say "Well the Bible says we are not to forsake the meeting together of the saints. We are to meet together in fellowship." So I say to that, okay well, where does it say how many times a week we should meet together? You can imagine the dirty looks I get. Hee hee.

I like to think of myself as the let's just call it like it is Christian. Let's leave our personal opinions out of theology unless we are going to state out loud "this is just my personal opinion". Let's be honest here, is it awesome and beneficial to read our Bibles every day, to pray every day, to stay aware of the presence of the Lord throughout our day, and to attend Church when the doors are open? SURE!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!! It's AWESOME!!!!!!! But, do we all get to the place where we want to do those things immediately? Do we get to that place with the Lord the same way? NO. Therefore, we should pray for and encourage those who are not at the same spiritual maturity level as we are as we should also pray for ourselves to continue to grow our own spiritual walk lest we think we are uber special or something. 'Cause none of us are perfect no matter what your church attendance record says. Can I get an Amen? Thank you.

I personally had my own little emotional breakdown this week over someone in my family being condemned and nagged to death and it hurt me deeply. Thankfully a great couple from church talked to me for an hour and a half after church and blessed me to death. I needed their encouragement and I am so thankful they were wise and gave it to me. I think I was hurting too much to be able to reason rationally which is odd for me but alas, that was the case. I felt led to discuss the issue with a friend and I am so glad I did. I was able to help a few people with this issue recently and this friend and her husband were able to speak wise words to me also. I just honestly get so frustrated and I wonder how much God looks down on us and thinks, "If those people would just stop trying to do everything for me and let me do it instead they'd be a whole lot happier!"

So, I'd like to encourage anyone who feels condemned by other Christians that they aren't doing it right, to ignore those words you have heard. Even if those words were true you may not be at the place in your walk with the Lord where you have the desire to do certain things. Can I encourage you to not give up on Church and to not give up on the Lord. The most important thing is to first establish a personal relationship with the Lord. This is how we hear from God, by seeking Him with a pure heart and talking to Him in prayer. What does it mean to have a pure heart? Well, to put it simply, you just want Him and you want to see Him, hear Him and know Him and you just want Him. You have no selfish motives, you just want to experience the Lord and let Him live in you and work through you. So it is through this abiding relationship with a pure heart that you will truly begin to develop your walk with God in wonderful and fruitful ways. He will draw you, He will give you truth and it is by remaining connected to God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit through studying and prayer that you will hear from God, you will grow spiritually and you will desire all the wonderful things God has for you. Prayer is everything, getting to know God's word for yourself is crucial! You are not a failure because you are not doing what someone else thinks you should be doing, even if they are right. Please just do not ever stop spending time with the Lord and seeking Him. It is a daily choice to seek the Lord and I want to encourage you that it is okay to take baby steps as long as you continue to grow. God will get you where you need to be if you just trust in Him to do that. If you want to know Him more and do what is right, then pray about it daily and He will be faithful to do it in you. You will never be perfect but you can receive perfect love and you can always be moving forward. Amen to that.

1 comment:

Tasha Simons said...


I'm sorry to hear that. It hurts to see those we love hurt by others. May the Lord be with you as you deal with this and give it to Him.

Your buddy,