Christian Articles Archive

Why People Join a Church in a "Non-Joining" Age

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Americans are said to be the "joining-est" people on earth. We have clubs and committees and groups for nearly everything. People join a health spa, a PTA, the Union, employee organizations, subscribe to United Way. But people don't join churches as much as they did 30 years ago. Why?

It used to be that everyone went to church. Church was the place where one made social and business contacts. It was the expected activity of every community citizen. But no more! In the San Fernando Valley it is estimated that only l5% of the population attends church on any given Sunday. Our society has become secular. Church and State have been so separated by our government that any exercise of religion in public is discouraged or prohibited.

But the disciples of Jesus Christ in our day are joining churches. They are going against the trend of society because they are following Jesus Christ.

First, Christian disciples know that their involvement is vital to the work of Christ. Christians were shocked some years ago when a murder took place in full view of a crowd, and no one lifted a finger to help because they "didn't want to be involved".

Christian disciples are joining churches because they know that their God given gifts are needed for Christ's Kingdom. They have rejected the excuse that "they don't really need me, they'll never miss me". Disciples become church members because they want to use their gifts for Christ!

Third, real disciples join churches because they are willing to risk loving others deeply. And there is a risk. Many Christians have been hurt by church squabbles, disappointments with Christian leaders, or disillusionment with the immorality of men and women of God whom they had trusted. But Christians, even wounded Christians, join churches because they know that to love is to both risk and grow. To protect oneself is only to die, and not to give and love.

Fourth, Christian disciples are joining churches because they believe in making open commitments in spite of the criticism of friends and family. Though they live in delicate family situations, Christians join churches because it is a vital and expected way for true believers to witness to their faith in Christ and commitment to His work. They know that to refuse to make this commitment would be giving in to the pressures of their family and friends in a way which would not please God.

Fifth, Christians join churches because they are not ashamed of financial commitment to Christ's work. They know that when they committed their pocket book or wallet to Him and to His work.

Sixth, real disciples join the church of Christ because they know they need the help of others to keep their commitments to Christ. They know that in being a member of a church, fellow members will expect them to attend, and they know they need this kind of incentive and accountability to strengthen their own spiritual lives.

Finally, Christians join churches because they know it is the right thing to do. Joining a church is not an act of weakness, but an act of Christian strength and commitment to our Lord. And true disciples know that they need to make and strengthen these commitments to Christ.

Are you an active member in a congregation of Christ's people where you live? If not, I would encourage you to write down the reasons why not, and then the reasons why you should. Then pray and ask God to guide you to do what He would have you to do.

Seventh, mature disciples know that though the church is imperfect, Christ calls them to strengthen it by their presence rather than just criticize it. Someone once said, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it! for then it wouldn't be perfect." The mature disciple realizes that he is an imperfect person working with other imperfect Christians to serve a perfect Christ.

There is a prayer which I pray nearly every day that has meant a great deal to me in my commitment to Christ.

"O Lord Jesus Christ: In obedience in your claim upon me, I surrender my life anew to you this day. All that I am, all that I have; to be wholly and unconditionally yours for your using of me. Take me away from myself, and my pre-occupation with myself and use me up as you will — where you will, when you will, with whom you will. Amen."

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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