Newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan | May 2023 | Volume 67, Number 5
FIRST PERSON: COMPROMISING CHRISTIANS
MEMPHIS, TN (BP) – Two of our Christian friends resigned from commitments in their churches last year and left ministry positions vacant. My husband and I tried to encourage them to find a way to continue their service, but they would not reconsider. Once it was clear they had made their final decision, we had to let it go. But we noticed a common thread in their situations – they sought and eventually accepted secular positions requiring them to miss church.
Because Sunday is a day set apart for worship, studying the Bible and enjoying Christian fellowship, it is unsettling to see that church attendance is losing value among Christians.
A recent Barna survey found that Christians consider themselves faithful even when they only attend church once or twice a month. According to Barna, 51 percent of Americans do not see the importance of going to church. Further proof of decline is the drop in church attendance from 43 percent in 2004 to 36 percent in 2014. The declining numbers prove Americans, and even Christians, are becoming more and more secular.
It used to be unthinkable for a Christian to miss church on Sunday unless they were homebound or hospitalized. Nowadays, skipping church has become the new normal as believers are indulging in recreation instead of worshipping Christ. They compromise Kingdom duties and replace them with work, sports, travel and other entertainment activities.
When I talk to Christians, I often hear the same responses:
Sunday is my only day off.
I rarely get to sleep in.
We have tickets to the game.
My job requires me to travel on Sundays.
Our family is going to the lake this weekend.
My son has a game.
The decline devastates the small church, and many of our larger churches are scrambling to combat the trend. Churches have added Friday and Saturday evening worship services to draw new, younger crowds. However, the additional services risk burning out pastors and ministry leaders already stretched to their limit. Only time will tell how effective these additional services will be in our changing church culture.
Hebrews 10:25 commands us not to neglect our times of assembly for worship but to be diligent in helping our brothers and sisters commit to regular worship attendance. Knowing that Christ's return is imminent, we cannot forsake our duty to encourage other believers in the Lord.
We can be sure we are obeying Scripture when we do the following things to help other Christians remain faithful to the Lord:
Pray for believers in your church to surrender to the Lord. A life fully surrendered can fully serve. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus teaches that we must deny ourselves, take up our own crosses and follow Him. Pray that our church members will see that no other work is as rewarding as serving Christ. Pray for God to give them zeal and passion to place Christ above everything else.
Be intentional as you talk to fellow church members. If you see a lack of commitment, lovingly point them to Scripture. Offer Romans 12:2 as a warning against apathy and compromise with the world. Use 1 Corinthians 12 to help them to see they are a necessary part of the body of Christ.
Be an example of humble devotion to Christ. Do not complain or make excuses for not serving when asked. Help others see the value of servanthood in the joy you display. You may be their only example of a faithful servant. Live out Matthew 6:33 in your life and people will see how God blesses you. Only the Lord can change people's hearts, but we know our God is faithful to keep His Word when we do what He asks us to do. If even a few believers recommit their time and talents to serving Christ, God gets the glory and the church benefits.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Redunda Noble is a freelance writer who also leads a women's Bible study, sings at church and serves alongside her husband James Noble, pastor of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn. The Barna study referenced in this article, "Americans Divided on the Importance of Church," can be accessed at https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/661-americans-divided-on-the-importance-of-church#.VrY3ZVgrKM8