A pastor friend of mine received a phone call recently from another pastor. The other man pastors a large church about an hour away from him. He had heard good things about my friends church and was calling him with an unusual request. You see, he had about 10 families from my friends community that were travelling to his church on Sunday morning for services. They were not involved in extra activities, ministries or additional services because of the distance. Their pastor wanted to see about getting them plugged in at a church in their community for their own spiritual health.
First, let me give kudos to this guy. Wow! This is SO unusual for a pastor to do. I applaud him for really caring about the spiritual health of his people.
Secondly, let me update you that in the three months since this conversation took place, not one of the families has taken their pastor up on his recommendation to them.
While I don't pretend to know all the reasons, I have a theory. my theory is based on the periods of time I have not been in active ministry, as well as the counseling, coaching and watching I do as a pastor's wife. Want to hear it? Sure you do!
They are consumers. They like the feeling of having a choice. They can decide each Sunday morning whether they feel like going to church or have something else they would rather do. They live too far away to be 'checked up on'. They live to far away to be expected to come to Sunday school or Wed. night Bible study. No one expects them to come to the midweek prayer meetings or work in the nursery. They are approaching church much like a customer walking into McDonalds. What is on the menu today?
Now compare that to an investor. An investor might live ten minutes or an hour away from the church but they are still a committed part of that body. He shows up for Sunday school because he believes it offers him something worth committing to. She can be counted on when everyone has to pull together for an outreach in the church. They have made the choice to invest their lives into that church; and the difference shows.
Someone once said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." I think it is time we transfer our investment mentality into the church. I am investing in my local church. It pays rich dividends. My children are welcomed and ministered to there. If I need prayer, I will find it there. If there is a crisis in my home, my church family will be there. There is safety and refuge within its walls.