17 November, 2010

Stick-to-it-ness (part 2)

When I wrote my last blog, I said that there were several things running through my mind and that I might write more. It's been an extremely hectic week and this is the first chance I've had to write more. If you did not read my last entry, it began after I read a quote by Josh Billings that said, "Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there."  The idea of being consistent, or sticking to one thing until it is done, is pretty much foreign to the world we live in.  That's because it involves a commitment... that dreaded "C" word. In 2010, commitment is a thing of the past to most of the world... even in the church.

This week I had a discussion with someone from my church in which they asked me how I felt about the number of people that our church had seen come in and go out of our church. The numbers are mind boggling... but as I told them, it is not an isolated problem to our church. It is a sign of the times we live in.  This mind set was summed up very well in the words of someone I spoke to just recently. I asked them what church they attended. They said that they had never set down roots anywhere, but they were now waiting for a new church that will open here in town after the first of the year. This church will be a satellite church of one in Peoria and the preaching will be done in Peoria and beamed live to the building here in Galesburg.   I asked them what made them feel like this would be the church for them, and they said, "If I want to stay home, no one's going to bother me."  The sad thing is, he was serious. 

Later in the day, after my conversation with the person from my church, I was going through some old pictures from my church and I was looking at the various faces who have moved on to greener pastures. I ran across a picture of the congregation from Easter Sunday, 2006. Of what I could count in that picture, of 79 people I could see in it, there are only 11 people still attending our church. Of those that have left, there were some in that picture who have been in as many as 4 other churches since that time. Most have been in at least 2, while some have dropped out of church altogether.  This is my point. The discipline of "sticking to it"  is gone.  It used to be that you had a church that you belonged to, and you stayed and worked things out, sought growth together... kind of like a family. But then again, families don't stay together any more either... do they?

One of the things that really gets to me is that many people leave smaller churches and run to the larger ones because they have more people, thus more money, thus better facilities and programs. I cannot tell you how many people have told me how much they love me, love our church and they hate to go... but they want to be involved in something bigger. What they really mean is... easier! Why do I say easier? Because it is easier to change churches, go to one with everything already built, than it is to stay and help build a program from scratch.  It's a sad fact.  As I thought through them all, I came up with a list of people who had been in our church and moved on to greener pastures, and the fact is that if all these people were still with us, added to what we have now, we would have roughly 200 now attending our church. I cannot help but grow a little frustrated when I think of what we could be doing if we had these numbers today. But I cannot change it... it is the way life is today... people want the newer buildings, the fancier programs... the instant and easy. No one wants to build where they are, they'd rather go to where it is already done for them.  Why do you think this new church coming to town will be a huge success? By the time the doors open, they will already have a top notch building, with the latest trends in decor, lighting, sound systems, kids programs ready built, great youth facilities...  in short, no one who will go there will have to lift a finger go build the church or the programs, the work will have already been done. Terrible indictment of the heart of people. But I fear that this will backfire in the end. If people have nothing invested, there is no reason to stay. 

No comments: