Posted by: larry | February 26, 2009

Wandering Sheep

wandering-sheepCHURCHES THAT HAVE A PATTERN OF LOSING THEIR MEMBERS, especially new members, just might be due for some introspection.  It’s not always the fault of the church when a member leaves for another church, or goes back into the world, but when this process is repeated over-and-over without any apparent reason it’s obvious something is out of whack.  Realizing a problem exists is a major step in correcting the problem, and dropping to our knees in prayer is the beginning of the solution.

This problem is not new, and we can’t change God’s Word in order to placate unhappy church members, but if the church is at fault we need to make the necessary changes so we don’t (as my preacher friend aptly noted) have new members walking in the front door and out the back.

The following list of possible reasons some new members bolt for greener pastures is by no means complete, but only intended as a springboard for further discussion:

  • NO FEELING OF BEING NEEDED, UNDERSTOOD, OR LOVED. They are not accepted as equals and don’t feel like a part of the group. If we don’t make the new Christian feel that he/she is not an intricate part of the church they will not be around long.  We need to go out of our way to embrace new Christians, even if we have to break up our cliques in order to spend valuable time with the new converts.  Those who are neglected will go somewhere they are appreciated!
  • OPINIONATED AND LEGALISTIC TEACHING pushed down the throats of new believers in an attempt to form another cookie-cutter member, and finding fault with everything a person has ever believed will push new members out the door in a heart-beat.
  • MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY BELIEFS are tough for anyone to swallow, but for a new christian these beliefs are deadly.  Those not encouraged to think for themselves, but pressured into accepting human traditions that have no basis in God’s Word is a formula for disaster.  Members not willing to accept a churches traditional viewpoints might find themselves outcasts.
  • LIFELESS AND RITUALISTIC PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICE that provides little to uplift or inspire.  I know we have a tendency to cast this problem at the feet of the new members, but perhaps some churches have ritualized the worship service over time until it’s little more than pomp and ceremony.  God and His children deserve inspired fellowship, joy, and love in the public worship service, not a stale ritualistic ceremony.
  • FEELING LIKE A MUSHROOM because vital church news is only accessible to a choice few who are in the know. The church seems like a secret society because only the core group have access to what’s going on in the church.  There are things that should remain private, but not things that effect the unity of the entire group.  Always being left in the dark wondering what’s really going on can be disheartening, especially when you know everyone else has the information.  Soon you feel out-of-the-loop, and well…like a mushroom!

    Obviously this is an incomplete list and only reflects my opinions.  Your comments and additions to the list are appreciated.

    o   o   o   o   o

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    Responses

    1. I know those problems well. Vicki and myself were members of the Nazarene church. Man, did we feel neglected, stiffled and abused.

      Jim

    2. You present good points.

      Russ:)

    3. Jim

      Surely all churches occasionally find themselves with these problems.

      Perhaps we ask too much from new converts, and just don’t take the time and patience needed to help them.

      Appreciate your comments as always.

    4. Russ

      Thanks for checking back, especially since I have been so slow posting lately…lazy I guess :)

      While I don’t always go directly to the blogs of those on my blogroll, many are subscribed to through RSS where I read them in my reader.

      Always appreciate your input.

    5. Larry, when a person comes to your church they are either visiting, or looking to find Christ, if they don’t see him they are looking somewhere else. they are not going to hang around until he comes to them.

    6. Laymond

      Visitors as well as new converts quickly pick up whether or not we are truly Christians or just putting on a show.

      You are right, they will not hang around waiting forever to be treated with the respect they deserve; if Jesus is not evident in our lives who would blame them for leaving…

    7. First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    8. It is good to keep blogging with you, Larry.

      Russ:)

    9. It is amazing how much transfer growth you get when you have inspiring worship take place on a weekly basis. I think that says a lot…although it is a sad testimony.

    10. Matt

      Thanks for the comments.

      There will always be some that fit the parable of the seed planted in shallow soil; perhaps they lose interest because we don’t always put forth the effort needed to make them feel they are a part of the Christian community.

    11. Somehow someone else took over my domain address. I have had to switch Night Writing in the Morning Light to a new name which is http://nightwritinglem.blogspot.com/

      I am still reconstructing. If you use the old name of http://www.nitewrit.net you will get some real estate site. I have nothing to do with this site or company.

      Larry E.

    12. Larry E

      I was wondering what was going on :)

      Made the necessary changes on my blogroll.

    13. Larry
      I love your points in this post.
      It is very informative, on target, and down right true.
      It is sad that many “believers” or so called Christians believe and practice these points.
      These that you mention will destroy a church. Thank you for dealing with this topic.
      God bless you brother and hope you have a fantastic weekend.

    14. Kinny

      Appreciate your comments.

      Hope your getting situated at the new location and things are improving with your health; your in my prayers my friend.

    15. Larry,
      Please keep my family and I in your prayers.
      Add me to your churches prayer list if you would.
      I am suffering from severe migraines and other nuerological problems.
      I appreciate it brother.
      I love and appreciate our freindship as well.

    16. Kinny,

      You and your family are certainly in my prayers.

      I’m sorry you are having all these problems with your health; certainly far more than your share.

      I also appreciate your friendship my brother.

    17. Just came across your site.

      We have similar thoughts. Please see:

      http://appalachianirishman.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-i-left.html

      I’ll visit again.

    18. M Fearghail,

      Checked out your site, and yes we do have “similar thoughts”.

      Noticed you haven’t been posting much lately either, perhaps both of us need to get back to work :)

      I read the “why I left…” article in The Courier also, and know a lot of people who have left the COC because of the emphasis on works and for whatever reason the inability to rejoice in His grace.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting.

    19. My goodness, Larry, you’ve gotten SEVEN months out of that last entry! I miss the “blogging” now that Facebook seems to have taken off. I’m not that great with “Ambient Awareness” that fb and twitter seem to require.
      This “sheep” is in a wandering mode…well, more like giving great consideration to other options. I wish I lived close to my kids so I could attend the church they are attending. Keep me in your prayers.

    20. I’m having a tough time refering to a pastor as a shepherd. In the Bible it says that “the Lord is my shepherd.” It also shows where Jesus tells Peter to “feed MY sheep”. I believe that pastors and shepherd are used interchangeably, but “shepherd” is a verb not a proper noun in reference to overseers. Jesus is the Shepherd with a capital “S”. Pastors should look after the sheep, but the sheep don’t belong to him – therefore I see him as an “undershepherd.” In earlier translations, shepherd is used more often than preacher or pastor or overseer. Any thoughts?

    21. Merry Christmas, Larry

    22. Is it true that you are not going to post until a republican gets in the white-house ? :)

      • Laymond,

        Just noticed your Republican comment … :) Knowing what the Democrats have, and viewing the Republican back-stabbing debates, i opt to be independent.

        Hope all is well with you and your family Laymond.

    23. We need to wait a little longer between comments, people going to think something is going on. :)


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