Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to get some much needed relaxation, and at the same time my wife had told the girls to spend some time outside. So there I was lying on the couch, trying desperately hard to relax and unwind from a hectic week, when the first of a long series of front-door-openings occurred. This seems to be a bad habit of all children in all generations. I remember when I was young, my parents would eventually shout out the words, “In or out!.” Something about this constant in-and-out is very unnerving. After about the 20th time the door opened and closed I had to tell them to stop it…it was causing me a bit of irritation…just as I caused my parents.
I don’t know what causes this in-and-out phenomenon. I don’t understand why children cannot stay outside for 5 consecutive minutes without feeling as though they must return to the inside of the house for a minute. They may say they’re thirsty, then pour a full glass of water…drink a small sip…set it on the counter…and dash back out…obviously not truly thirsty. Like I said…I don’t understand what caused me to do this kind of thing…what causes my children to do it…and what has caused countless generations to do it.
While pondering on this…I thought of how often the church doors swing in the same manner…not in the literal sense…but in the sense that there is a definite deficiency in the level of commitment for a large number of church members. Most of the time when we talk about the “revolving doors” of the church, we are talking about people “church hopping.” That is not what I’m speaking of here. I am speaking of the problem of non-commitment on behalf of church members…when, just like my kids, they can’t decide whether they want to be in or out. These are things that drive pastors/leaders crazy. It’s very challenging to know whether or not we can depend on people. I’ve said before that the biggest lie I hear from week to week is, “I’ll see you Sunday (or Wednesday, etc.).”
Let me be clear…I understand that things come up. I understand that people get sick, kids get sick, someone may have to work, vacations happen, etc. (Now brace yourself for some sarcasm) It’s amazing to me how many of those things ALWAYS happen on Sunday between 9 am and 1 pm? I understand that people need us to help them move, but why is it that they can only move during those hours? Why is it that with some church members, EVERY Sunday is a day that is taken up by some other activity…and yet they count themselves the part of a Body…yet they join in very sporadically?
I think what it really comes down to is that many people are not committing their schedule primarily to a life that revolves around Christ and His people. This doesn’t mean they are not believers any more than attending church regularly means someone is a believer. What this means is that Jesus and His family may well not be a priority in their lives.
I’ve done some observation, and based on what I see, I think we could estimate that the average church member gives less than 1% of their time to the fellowship/worship time of their faith body. That number is actually generous when you literally compare how much time we have compared to how much time we spend this way…with 168 hours in a 7 day week. How many of those 168 are we dedicating to the Lord and His people?
Some will throw out that famous chestnut, “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” True. But a Christian is a part of the Body of Christ and should therefore be putting time and energy into that Body. You don’t involve yourself in church TO BE a Christian…you do so because YOU ARE a Christian. The irony about all of this is that the same ones that are very non-committal in their involvement will often be the same ones that complain about the way things are in the church…never really even attempting to get their hands dirty working on the solution. Here’s the truth…if there is a problem with the way things are, then there is a need for reformation. REFORMATION ALWAYS COMES FROM WITHIN. Always…and it’s always a bit difficult…ALWAYS.
Let’s be all in or all out. Let’s stop running in the house…then running back out…leaving everyone wondering where we’re going to land for any given period of time. We need to be able to count on each other. When we schedule our time, let our children see that what matters is that we are putting the Body in a place of priority. I know the Body is messed up. I know church people make us mad…and we as church people make others mad. I know we can be a bunch of contrary individuals, but I also know that He has given us a command to be a part of this work and get involved, and put our hand to the plow…and not look back…and be patient with each other…as He is patient with us…and I know that He still loves the Body…intensely…
Let’s grow up, take our faith seriously, take His commands seriously, take His church seriously, and seriously take all of them to everyone else…which is what being a Christian is all about.