What is your understanding of active members?
I grew up with the whacked out idea that in congregation, an active member implies a person doing the following:
- Goes to church every Sunday.
- Partakes in a small group (If a person is willing to be a small group leader or play a specific role in the leading of the small group he/she naturally moves to the next level of membership. They are worth more.
- If they are active in one of the ministries of the Church like Family, Outreach, worship ministry then they move to the next level.
- If they are giving 10% or more they move to the next level of commitment.
- If they are leading someone in Discipleship they are ready to become a Deacon, Elder or Pastor. This would be the highest level.
This believe has been shuttered to the core by a group of Africa pastors and their Thailand counterpart. With horror they exclaimed in unison that this cannot be! They wanted to know where was the biblical proof for this way of thinking. They argued to be church (not congregation) meant that Christians must not be busy at church, they must be busy in the world. The young Christians must be out there trusting the Holy Spirit. My Egyptian friend said:
If zhey(he had some trouble with the T’s) are zaught(taught) to believe zhat zhey are not ready to live Christ but must first be zaught what to say and do. Zhen zhey will never experience zhe truth of Mathew 10:19 “do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Zhey will be tricked into trusting in zhemselves and never experience Zhe Holy Spirit. Zhen zhy will hide away at church demanding more activities.According to them you don’t get active members in a congregation, you get the church that is active in the world.
Where is the focus of your congregation?
Sheepishly I asked them where do they focus in their congregations? At this point there was unanimity amongst them and they said that they would rather talk church than congregation. The only way forward is if we think less of what we are doing and trusting more in what God is doing. The most of them agreed that they see their role as local group of Church to have sermons where the bible is taught(not where you tell people how to go and live their unique lives, that again is the work of the Spirit), where their is worship, where relationships are formed and to provide pastoral care for those in need. Then the greatest task is to go out and live Christ in the world, so that people will see Him and will give their hearts to the Lord.
How do we help our people to be “not relevant?”
It dawned on me that I don’t really trust the Holy Spirit, I believe He is real, but on some level I believe I must help Him. In helping Him I am focusing on dogma, programs and courses. By the time I am finished people are to confused to go out. They would rather stay in Church and be busy with thing in our congregation, good things.
What can we do to make a difference?
We have to go back to simple Church! People today are busy, they have a yearning to go to Church to Worship and experience God. This hour or hour and a half on a Sunday is the time to focus on God! This must be the place where believers come with anticipation, this must be the highlight of their week. Then we must get out of the way. We must get into the world and live examples. These people's Churches differ from our Churches in the fact that they have new conversions every week.