Thursday, July 12, 2012

Where Did Everybody Go???

As a child, I used to love the summer nights. We caught lightening bugs in jars to light our paths and the moon shone brightly in the night sky.  The night air was filled with the sounds of nocturnal creatures and that is where I loved to hear the music of the cricket.  When I heard the crickets chirping through the night, I knew that everything was still.  It was peaceful and all was well.  The music emanating from the cricket rose through the quiet like a symphony written by Bach.  I loved the sound then as a child, but I grew to despise it as an adult. I hear that chirping sound more than just in the summertime.  I hear the crickets in every season, every Sunday in our churches.  Where the music was once melodious and soothing has now become loud, irritating and disheartening.

Pews that were once filled are now empty. It is not uncommon to look in on a church and observe that the few people that are in attendance could easily fill three rows in a church with twenty rows on each side.  Some balconies have not been used in twenty plus years.  What has happened?  We used to have three, four and sometimes five generations of one family in a church.  Our churches used to be community churches where everyone in that particular community went.  We used to have ministries that made the people to want to be at the church every time the doors were open.  What happened? 

Now if you're looking for me to give you statistical information in this blog, you are sadly mistaken.  I don't need statistics to tell me what I see with my own two eyes.  I asked, "What happened?"  This is what I have seen over the twenty or so years:
  1. No Evangelism.  We have forgotten for some crazy reason to do what Jesus has instructed us to do, which is to, " Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" Mark 16:5.  Jesus also instructed us to, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19.   We have become too comfortable in maintaining a low standard and claiming it in the name of Jesus.  The truth of the matter is that we are lazy Christians. We don't walk the streets or visit the prisons.  God forbid if we open up our churches to feed the homeless and visiting the sick and shut-in is low on our list of priorities. Our testimonies have become tired and weak. We live within the confines of the four walls only on Sunday mornings and never venture beyond the vestibule. We are in perpetual hibernation from Kingdom Building.     
  2. Internal Church Power Struggles.  Somebody is going to hate me for saying this! Most churches have these pockets of "cliques" that want to control everything, including the pastor.  If you are not a part of their "clique" you don't matter.  You're not valued and it's basically saying to you that  you're not wanted.  Why stay in a place where you're not wanted?
  3. No Ministries. Let's say that you do manage to get a few people in the door.  What ministries does the church offer?  If you have none, don't expect people to stay in a place where they can't even participate. 
  4. Not Enough Young Adult and Youth Involvement. One day you will become a "seasoned saint."  Who will take your place.  We don't train our YA's or Youth's in offices of the church.  We are too busy trying to hold on to a title rather than passing on the knowledge. What happens is that they either leave in search of a church that's more accepting of instructing them or they grow up ignorant and incompetent of how to serve on the boards of the church they grew up in.
  5. Finger Pointing.  We are too busy pointing the fingers at one another rather than looking at our own shortfalls.  It is not the pastor's fault and it is not the layperson's fault.  It's EVERYBODY'S.
                                 The Parable of Responsibility  
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody were members of a group.
There was an important job to do and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Anybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody, blamed Somebody, when Nobody did, what Anybody could have done.

I could go on and on, but the list is too long and I only have so much time.  I could continue to lament like Jeremiah, but I have to be honest and begin with me.  I have to look inwardly to make sure that I am doing all that I can for the building of God's Kingdom.  Maybe one day I will begin to like the cricket's song again, but only if the pews fill up. 

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