Saturday, February 13, 2010
Passive or Active for Christ
Earlier this month I was at a meeting in Atlanta with a group of mission leaders from around the nation. We had gathered to strategize how to join God in what He was doing to start a church planting movement in North America. As a part of our discussion we brainstormed how to get everyone in the church involved in church planting. One of the people present suggested that we might be trying the impossible. He said "In church life, 20% do a lot, 30% do a little and 50% do nothing. We tend to appeal to the bottom 50% but they are the least likely to respond. We need to focus on the 30% who do a little in order to get them to do more." I have been reflecting a lot on that statement over the past month.
While I am not sure about the accuracy of the exact numbers, I think the concept is valid. I think that a significant portion of people in the church have become takers. By that I mean that they are content to sit back and let others do the hard work while they reap the benefits. This is definitely true in church life, but I think it is also true in other areas of life too. Too many people are content to live on welfare instead of work. Too many people are willing to let others volunteer in community organizations and schools. Too many people are willing to let others make the decisions politically. Far too many people in our culture are willing to enjoy the benefits but are unwilling to put forth the energy to produce those benefits. This is not good for our culture as a whole, nor for the church, which remains a key part of that culture.
When a church becomes passive, that church will begin to decline. A church can only decline so far before it dies. Hundreds of churches across America close every year. Those churches were once vibrant lights in their community, but somewhere along the way too many people sat back and let too few do the work. Eventually the few just couldn't do it anymore and the church died. If we think our church or denomination is immune to such demise, we are ignoring reality.
What can we do about it? I suppose if we are in that bottom 50% that simply does nothing; we will just shrug our shoulders and do nothing. But if we are in the top 50% who are already engaged, we should ask if we are doing enough to make our church healthy. We may never get "everyone" involved. There will always be takers who want the benefits without the responsibilities. Therefore, we must focus on our raising our own activity levels. We must also encourage others who are already engaged to become more active. Though we hope that the "do-nothing" crowd will one day become active, we cannot wait for them to wake up. We must be deeply involved ourselves and work with others who are similarly engaged. We must create a coalition of the willing, roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Is this fair? No, but it is the reality of the world we live in. Let's stop wasting time brow beating the "do-nothing" crowd and start working with the ones who are doing something and together become all that God wants us to be.