Have we become lukewarm?
A young minister interviewed recently by The Christian Chronicle wore a T-shirt with that simple message on it. While the suit-and-tie generation might frown on reducing one’s theology to a slogan scrawled across the chest, the mantra has much merit for the modern-day church.
As we have reported in our “Are We Growing?” series, the nation as a whole is growing rapidly. But America’s 13,000 a cappella Churches of Christ — as a group — are not.
As much as we hate to suggest it, as much as we want to hope and believe that it isn’t true, we must ask: Have we become lukewarm?
Have we lost our passion for our savior? Have we become too comfortable with our carpeted, air-conditioned auditoriums and catered fellowship meals? Have we started treating church like a social club? Have we stopped reading our Bibles, stopped teaching our children the basic building blocks of our faith, stopped sharing the good news with our friends and neighbors? If we are guilty of any of these sins, we pray that God would forgive us and grant us a renewed energy and vigor to reach our communities with the saving grace of Jesus.
Of course, numbers are not the issue; only God can increase the size of his church. But it is not presumptuous, in our view, to question whether our own failure to fulfill the Great Commission has played a significant role in regard to stagnate membership figures.
So, what do we propose? Simply that we heed the message on that T-shirt. One needs only to look at our front page this month to find examples of Christians who are doing something.
Hundreds of Christians flocked to Tampa, Fla., to knock strangers’ doors as part of the 2007 Crusade for Christ. Dozens were baptized as a result. Praise God.
In April, we reported on the Remmel church in rural Arkansas, a congregation that offered its community free counseling and addiction recovery programs — and increased its Sunday attendance fivefold. Praise God.
Last month, we reported on a campus ministry that encourages members to go outside their comfort zone and minister to fellow students. In the past four years, the ministry has experienced 120 baptisms. Praise God.
Undoubtedly, some will protest that these methods won’t work in their community. Well, have you considered a different approach?
Perhaps you could wash cars for free in the church parking lot or offer debt management training at your building as a way of making contacts. Perhaps you could host a community softball game or cookout as a way of introducing your congregation to the people who drive by your building.
Better yet, maybe you could make it a priority to tell the people you already know — your best friend, your daughter’s soccer coach, the elderly woman across the street — how Jesus died to save us from our sins.
You only have one life. Do something.