... (and other lame excuses people give for why they drop out of church.)
Anyone who has ever worked in a church has heard the seemingly endless litany of excuses people give for why they drop out of church.
Back in 1992, when I came to Arlington Christian Church (now Crossroads), I can’t tell you how many times people told me they were leaving because our church was “too small.”
When we moved to our new campus, the line heard over and over was, “This is too big. We need to find a smaller church.”
Ironic isn’t it, how the same people who want a bigger car and a bigger house want a smaller church? Or how no one ever hears them say, “This football stadium is too big.” Or, “I’ll never shop in this store again because they have way too much merchandise.”
One of the more infamous lines people use is, "I WASN’T BEING FED." Or the twin sister version, "I’m looking for something deeper." Usually uttered by someone with a shallow understanding of what it really means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ and/or someone who, at best, had a superficial involvement in the church.
Very rarely is poor preaching and teaching the REAL REASON people drop out of a church. I’ve heard great teachers and preachers in all kinds and sizes of churches. Maybe it was a problem of not listening? (James 1:22-25)
Aren’t you and I, unless we are newborns, supposed to be feeding ourselves — reading the Word, praying and seeking God on our own, every day of our lives? With new believers of course, the older men need to teach the younger men. And the older women need to teach the younger women, and we should stay at it until they can feed themselves. But if your spirituality is dependent on one meal a week (on Sunday), something’s wrong.
The fact is, there are a lot of spiritual babies in our world who jump from crib to crib.
The “eternal babyhood of the believer” is not taught anywhere in Scripture. In fact, what you will find is the exact opposite. That we need to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15c-16).
Peter adds, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
The Hebrews were rebuked for their childishness and lack of growth. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again, the basic principles of the oracles of God. We need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
The fact is, there are a lot of spiritual babies in our world who jump from crib to crib (church to church) and bottle to bottle, but never seem to grow. They complain how their last church, or former Pastor, or old small group (or fill in the blank) stinks. But the problem is their own dirty diaper and unfortunately, they never address their own mess. They just take it with them wherever they go.
People don’t quit a church because they were deeply involved in the disciple making enterprise, giving generously and sacrificially to support the ministry, heavily committed to the mission of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They quit because they weren't.
If you’re being challenged to get out of your comfort zone, don’t walk away and try to find a place and a Pastor who will do things “the way they used to be,” so you can be comfortable again. If you feel like your toes are being stepped on, maybe God’s trying to get your attention. Maybe you need to move your feet and start doing what he’s preaching about.
If you have a problem with someone, Jesus said face it and fix it (Matthew 18:15-17), don’t flee from it.
Too many contemporary Christians have spiritual prenuptial agreements, full of opt-out clauses and conditions where they can quit. Although never written down, they exist and usually revolve around two things: feelings and finances. As long as they feel good and don’t have to give anything, they’re in. But if their feelings get hurt or they’re asked to give faithfully or sacrificially – they’re out.
So, for those who say, I WASN’T BEING FED… maybe the problem is …
… YOU WERE!
© 2016. Barry L. Cameron
(Thanks to Caleb Kaltenbach for the idea for this blog.)
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.