It’s time to stop attending church. If you’re shocked at that statement, give me a chance to explain.
Have you noticed the shift in the language we use to describe our relationship with a specific church? There was a time when we heard someone say, “I’m a member of Third Baptist Church,” or “I belong to Third Baptist Church.” The trend has shifted to, “I attend Third Baptist Church.” Did you catch that? The operative word is “attend.”
That word is appropriate for those who move to a new city and visit a variety of churches in search of a new church home. It accurately describes one who dropped out of church years ago and is now attending churches to consider reconnecting with a body of believers. It is acceptable for the person who is a guest of a church member or similar situations. But it is not an accurate picture of one who has trusted Jesus as Savior, followed Him in baptism and united with a local church.
I attend a baseball or football game. I attend a Broadway show or concert as a guest. In those venues, I am merely a spectator. I have no commitment to the athletes except to cheer them on to victory. I appreciate the skill of actors, actresses and musicians, but I attend their event for my own enjoyment. I mark it in my book of life experiences as a good memory and move on with my life.
But my church family is different. I am not a spectator or guest when I meet with fellow believers on Sunday or any other time. I am both a worshiper and a team player. I am knitted to my fellow church members as followers of Jesus Christ who made a commitment to serve Him together. As church members, we use our spiritual gifts as one body. We are accountable to each other.
A local church is an identifiable gathering of believers who are committed to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to the world. My church home is not a place I attend.
An attender does not represent the biblical picture of commitment to God’s design for the church. The whole idea waters down the purpose of the New Testament church and is counterproductive to our mission. It is not the message we want to communicate. It weakens the definition of who we are.
Attenders will not get the job done. The church can only advance with members who are committed to the Great Commission goals of the church – people who belong, people who serve.
The focus of North Carolina Baptists in recent years has been on the biblical lifestyle of making disciples. Many of our churches have already been equipping their members to be disciples who make disciples. Many other churches are joining the movement to impact lostness in North Carolina and around the world through disciple-making.
Surely pastors will agree that the church they lead cannot grow a reproducing, disciple-making strategy with casual church attenders. Committed members must step up to the plate.
We hope Baptist churches will always welcome attenders, but we hope these guests will soon become fully committed, disciple-making members.
North Carolina Baptists need to know
All North Carolina Baptists should read the reports from the convention’s recent board of director’s meeting. They underscore the disciple-making strategy in every area – church revitalization, church planting, collegiate ministry and more. Significant progress is itemized in the strategy report.
Please do not pass over the financial report. It reflects the mission goals of N.C. Baptists and contains important information that is cause for rejoicing.
John Butler, executive leader for business services at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina said ours is the only state convention to increase its Cooperative Program (CP) allocation to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in each of the past 11 years. North Carolina Baptists have also ranked first in giving to the SBC’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in each of the past five years and first in giving the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions in four of the past five years and nine of the last 10.
Through CP, special offerings and other giving, North Carolina Baptist churches have contributed more than $152 million to SBC causes in the past five years, which has included record single-year contributions in both 2016 and 2017.
“We are not only engaging lostness in North Carolina, but through the strategy and financial planning that we’ve been able to do, we are doing more to engage lostness in this nation and around the world than we ever have before,” Butler said.
The only state convention that gave more in total gifts to CP, AAEO and LMCO last year was Florida. That state’s total was boosted by a special one-time gift to CP of $3,136,500, representing the proceeds from the sale of their convention’s headquarters in Jacksonville. This gift was announced during the Executive Committee report June 13 at the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., and previously reported by the Biblical Recorder.
The generous giving record of Baptist churches reflects faithful church members, visionary pastors and mission-focused church leaders who are committed to consistent tithing and giving through the local church. It is an honor and a pleasure to be on this winning team!