More about the conversation with my pastor friend…
Are people less committed these days than a few years ago? One thing seems clear: people are orbiting away from high levels of affiliation with the Church. This is tragic. It breaks the heart of God. This pattern must change. Consider this: the Church is doing a poor job of walking out mission. Of late the topic of mission has become fairly popular. Fashionable even. We would rather talk about a topic than actually do it. I’m not all that interested in hearing the “M” word used much (especially by people who aren’t doing mission) unless we talk about it after we have done it quite a bit.
Dr. Stephen Gray is a church planting guru with the Free Methodists in the western US. He quotes some interesting statistics regarding the growth and shrinkage of various spiritual groups in America. He points out that across the board, the “evangelical” sector of the Church in the US has shrunk in the past decade by a whopping 50%. That’s the Evangelicals folks. I find that amazing when you consider that the word “evangelical” affirms a high value for sharing the gospel of Christ with the unbelieving world. The one thing they stand for they are failing miserably at. On the other hand, the Mormons (LDS) have grown by a whopping 150% in the past decade. There is a Spanish speaking Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall across from our facility in Oregon that is jam packed every Friday through Sunday night. Obviously the Mormons and JWs have the biblical story backwards. They aren’t proclaiming a Jesus-centered, biblical message. What do they have going for them? They are incredibly missional! They have something exciting to join. They are setting out to change the world. Along the way they demand total buy in by their members. They require their people to give (tithe) as a part of normal membership. There is no option for participation for membership at less than the 10% version of money and time and personal gifting.
God wants to use your church to do something extraordinary. Say Yes we will, then call people forward.