People are coming back to church in record numbers these days. There are a number of reasons why:
- The growing spiritual hunger among people who’ve tried everything else and become severely dissatisfied with the shallow, hollow emptiness those things produced.
- The aging of our nation, specifically the baby boomers (10,000 will turn 65 every day for the next 15 years), who have kids and have finally realized they need help teaching their kids the morals, values and important traditions they were taught in church when they were young.
- The instability of our times, economically, morally, politically, socially, emotionally and personally. The rise of Islam, ongoing global threat of terrorism, and the increase of violence and immorality.
But just WHO is coming to church? You might be surprised who’s coming and why they’re coming. There are at least SIX DIFFERENT GROUPS:
1) Group number one comes with an agenda. They come to your church wanting it to be like their last church or at least the way they think church should be. Usually, they’ll give you a year or two to adjust to their way of doing things. If the proper adjustments aren’t made, out the door they go off to their next church to try to get their agenda affirmed, approved and implemented there. These people have a rap sheet of previous churches as long as your arm, and the only time they stop and stay for a while is when they find a place that lets them do their thing.
2) Group number two comes with no agenda. They simply come to worship God. These are good people and will become some of the church’s best members. Once they see where the church is going and what the church is trying to accomplish, they quickly determine this is something they can sign on to, suit up for, and support enthusiastically. They get connected quickly, make friends and find a place where they can serve and contribute, blessing you and many others for as long as they live or as long as the church is there.
3) Group number three comes because your church is the hottest thing in town. These are sugar saints, seeking a sweet experience and nothing more. They’re not interested in serving, growing, contributing or staying. They jump from church to church looking for a quick, spiritual buzz, a spiritual sugar high. Your church happens to be the flavor of the month or the year. These people always stay on the fringe, something they can do for several months or even years; and although they can be very positive, you’re never quite positive whether or not they’ll stay. Don’t build with these people or make long-term plans, expecting them to be around. Because, as soon as they find a hotter deal, they’re gone.
4) Group number four comes to church, and this is their last shot. They’ve got problems and are looking for quick solutions. Their problems may be spiritual, marital, financial, emotional or relational. They may even have problems with their last church. But one thing’s for sure: although you won’t know it when they arrive, you’ll quickly discover their problems are serious and severe. They’ll give you a few weeks, at best, and if you are unable to wave a magic wand and fix everything in their lives, they’ll be gone. These people are among the most frustrating you will ever minister to because they insist on microwave miracles and instant answers, even though their problems are deep seated and longstanding.
5) Group number five comes to your church from some other community. They are looking for a new beginning. If they had a good experience in the church they came from, they’ll be looking for something similar. If not, they’ll be open to something entirely new and even different. The fact is, when they visit your church, you’ve got a chance to reach them and have them for a long, long time. These people can be a wonderful blessing to your ministry if you can get them connected.
6) Group number six has no church background whatsoever. They bring no baggage with them. These people will be a breath of fresh air to your church. These are the people you are able to lead to the Lord. People you can teach, train, disciple and empower to serve and lead others. And since you’re the only church they’ve ever known, they won’t get caught up in the games so many other church members play, and will become among the most faithful, productive members your church will ever have.
In the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, Jesus made it abundantly clear it’s not the sower (the workers of God) or the Seed (the Word of God) that determines the outcome. Rather, it’s the soil (the condition of people’s hearts). And surprisingly, Jesus said there was only ONE SOIL that was good.
As people come back to church, and they are coming in record numbers, we need to be on the lookout for the GOOD SOIL. We also need to watch out for the BAD DIRT.
© 2015. 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.