Call it mother’s intuition. Call it anything you want. But somehow she knew something was troubling her six-year-old boy. So, she stood by his bedroom door and listened intently as he alternated between sniffles and sobs. She gradually opened the door as the light from the hallway illuminated a scared expression on her little boy’s face.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, moving quickly to his bedside, sitting down and beginning to stroke his small head, all in one fluid motion. “I’m scared,” he said, his lip quivering as if he were outside, freezing in freshly fallen snow. “Honey, there’s nothing to be scared about,” she said, with the assurance that only comes from a mom. “Yes, there is,” he said, with the conviction of youngster twice his age. “There’s someone under my bed!”
His mother slipped off the bed and knelt beside him, lifting the blanket to see what she already knew was there - nothing. “Johnny, it’s just as I thought,” she said. “There’s no one under your bed.” He sat up, pushed the blanket and sheet to the side, jumped to the floor, and pointed under his bed to a small pile of dust. “Right there,” he said, pointing with passion, “somebody’s under my bed!” His mother smiled and said, “Honey, that’s not a person, that’s just dust. There’s no one under your bed.”
Undeterred, Johnny persisted. “No mom, you don’t understand. Today in Sunday School, Mrs. Wilson said we all come from dust, and when we die we return to dust. So someone is under my bed. They’re either comin’ or goin’!”
Now, I don’t know what’s under your bed, but I do know what’s inside your church. Because the same thing is inside our church and every church in the world. Are you ready for it? Here it is. Inside every church are two groups of people: people who are “comin’ and people who are goin’.” That’s it. Those are the only two groups of people you will find in every church in the world and I’m not talking about babies being born and folks getting ready to die. I’m talking about the two kinds of people who comprise every congregation in every city and community on this planet.
Ironically, most churches focus on those who are comin’. We count ‘em, brag about ‘em, take pictures of ‘em and hope someone asks us about ‘em. “How many you got comin’ to your church these days?” The question always evokes a smile. We love talking about how many are comin’. But interestingly enough it’s not the comers who make a church great. Rather, it’s the goers.
Let me explain. In many churches the focus is all wrong. It’s on those who are comin’ rather than those who are goin’. In other words, the emphasis is on how many come to church, how many come to small groups, how many come to our events and activities when the emphasis should be on how many are goin’.
Jesus told us to go. But truthfully, how many of us are really goin’? Wouldn’t it be better to have more people goin’ out to share their faith than comin’ to hear about how to do it? Wouldn’t it be better to have youth coaches goin’ out to every school campus in the community to show an interest in the events and activities of our kids rather than comin’ to church to stand at the back and make sure they behave? Wouldn’t it be better to have 500 men goin’ out to live a godly life in a godless world rather than comin’ to a men’s breakfast to hear a speaker tell us how to live a godly life in a godless world?
I’m not suggesting that people comin’ to church is wrong. We ought to be and need to be in church, every Lord’s Day, without fail and without excuse. I’m just saying the real deal takes place when we go out and actually are the church we sing, teach, pray and preach about - when we actually live out our faith, in the world in which we live, not just inside the church we attend. When we don’t just “hear” the Word, but actually “do” the Word like James encouraged us to do (James 1:22-25).
If all we’re going to do is produce more comers and fewer goers, we’d be better off to close the church and stay home on weekends. Jesus didn’t die on a cross so His church could accumulate scores of people who come and collect dust until they become dust. Quite the contrary, our task is to produce passionate, persistent people who will go out “into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature” until we die or Jesus returns.
Can we do it? Sure we can. But first, we’ll need to answer the question: Are we just comin’. . . week after week, month after month and year after year . . .
. . . or are we goin’?
© 2013. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.