Search This Blog

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birthing New Believers Is Inconvenient

I am always trying new things to bring people into God's kingdom. The message of Jesus coming to save the lost never changes but the methods of delivering this message constantly changes.

Our church was unknown even in our own community. Thus, we put an electronic sign that got a lot of media coverage. One of the local tv stations interviewed me as a few in the community tried to say that electronic signs would make us look like Las Vegas. I have been to Las Vegas. I don't think what we put on our church sign palely resembles the signs in Las Vegas. The media coverage and the sign netted us hundreds of new visitors. Some of our own members thought that we shouldn't put up the sign if we made anyone mad. I can assure you that the devil is always mad when people come to the Lord. I also know that there are some people who don't like people coming to the Lord. Winning people to Christ is not popular with everyone.

We changed our worship service times because we needed to put an emphasis on reaching young people. It made it hard on some of the older members to get to church an hour earlier than they had previously. Their difficulties are noted but we are now growing faster in young adults and children than ever before. It is strange but I baptize as many adults as I do children. Many of these are young adults with preschool children.  The life of a church must always include new spiritual births. Most of these will come from a younger congregation. The congregation that makes it easier for its believing members to attend while making it harder for non-believers will die.

This is just math and biology. Everyone has a shelf life. We are are expiring no matter how much we ignore it. A church who fails to reach new people will die because its members will die. The numbers in attendance will gradually fade. The church will die slowly.

For some reason, people forget that having children is very uncomfortable. It is very inconvenient. I remember my wife's back pains and morning sickness. I remember getting up with my children in the middle of the night. I remember thinking that I would die from lack of sleep. Birthing and raising spiritual children is not that different.

The unchurched, not yet believers (NYBs) do not know what to do. They treat the worship service like it is a concert. They bring in their Starbuck's cups and walk in an out as they please regardless of what is going on. I let this stop bothering me long ago. Yes, they are sometimes distracting but I would rather have them listening to the gospel than not. So, we love on them regardless of their actions in worship.

The NYBs bring in a set of problems that are messy. Some have children from several different relationships. Some do not understand the idea of exclusive sexual relations in a marital context. Some are addicted to drugs, sex or pornography. Some have been convicted of crimes and are on parole. Some are just lost and do not know where to turn so they turn to every new snake-oil salesman and try his special "spirituality."

NYBs bring children and cannot share time teaching these children in the preschool department because they have nothing to teach them. They do not have a faith to pass on. NYBs give very little or nothing at all even though they come to the fellowships, eat the food and leave things a mess. NYBs slow the teaching process in Sunday School because they ask questions that those who have been in church all their lives already know the answer to.

Some NYBs are born. Some are aborted by church members. Some miscarry.

 A former NYB wrote me (Not a quote but close): I don't know what has happened to me. I didn't use to want to come to church and now I can't wait. I didn't use to have or read a Bible but now I read it every day. I didn't use to pray but I now don't understand how I could have gotten along without it. . .

These messages I receive are getting less rare. I rejoice and commit myself again to these NYBs. Birthing new believers is messy but it is worth it.

Luke 19:10 (ESV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

1 comment:

high-expressions said...

I have yet to leave my comment for the entry immediately before this, but because I read this too, I cannot help but "jump the gun", and say, "Well-done, Ps Prentis". Thumb-ups, and thumb-ups.

It is so apt of you to illustrate the necessity to be tolerant and accommodative, and even sacrifice, if we want to have new births. That is what the Lord wants, "New births".

If we just snatch "grow-ups" from other churches, we are NOT getting more people saved. It might delay the ageing problem of our church, but it does NOT help the other church who lost a sheep/several sheep to us; and it certainly does NOT help to grow the overall church of God.

In my little country, due to impending ageing population problem, we are having that approach of instant grown-ups to be naturalised into the country, in addition to encouraging the native citizens to give birth. The former is NOT without problems; but the bigger problem is that native citizens are just NOT wanting to have babies - the inconvenience, the cost, and sacrifices, etc, etc, being cited. It is NOT surprising that such mindset is also found in Christian community, here and abroad.

What are leaders for? They are to lead. Senior pastors of churches must NOT forget they are to lead. It sure does NOT please the Lord to have such leaders going by the majority’s wishes when their wishes are NOT consistent with the ways of God. Leaders must be prepared to implement tough but right decisions with love, which include giving understanding, where appropriate. Leaders who honor God, will be held in honor by God.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions