We Are About Relationships
Do you ever wonder if all that we do at church really matters? I know we provide community, hope and outreach to the world. We spread the word of Jesus’ teachings even though most of us can’t quote the Bible without cheat notes. In the end, does our existence as Christians matter to anyone but ourselves?
The Pew 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that one in four Americans are not religiously affiliated. This is a 30% jump in the past 10 years. The largest subset of this group defines themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Per this study, this subgroup now makes up almost 16% of the American public, or about one in eight Americans. To give you some perspective on size, this group is now larger than all Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists combined in the United States. The trend is even worse among the Millennium generation, wherein one out of three fall into the “spiritual but not religious” group. Wow, the “none of the above” denomination won out against the majority of the mainline protestant denominations.
Why is this the case? Are we Christians not good people? Are we not kind and caring enough? Don’t we help people? Why do these people not like us? It’s enough to give you a complex.
Going forward, what do we do as a mid-sized local church in our world? Several of you are well read and educated on the matter. There are also several scholarly writings on this vexing subject. However, as a lay person, I don’t have a clue about the answer.
My father used to say to me that “A person does not have to be smart to solve a problem. They just have to have the courage to do what is needed to solve it. The world is full of problems, because we have more smart people than courageous people.” I would ask all of you to act on the courage within you. Reach out beyond these walls and touch someone’s life. We need to have higher standards not of other people, but of ourselves. We need to push ourselves with our time, our money, our heart, and our actions to help others who are not like us.
Last weekend, my daughters once again did something that had nothing to do with my parenting skills. They decided to have a bake sale during the big community yard sale. They found what supplies we had in the house and made some brownies and set up a table on the sidewalk. They were determined to give away their brownie treats to people passing by, and tell them about our church’s Pride Fund. They spent a couple of hours telling complete strangers how they had made a difference in some stranger’s life with the Pride Fund. They wanted to give to the Pride Fund again this year, and they wanted others to help them. This is what they got from their church… Wow. No scripture, no sermon, no music, no building. They were just two kids wanting to help, acting proactively and courageously on their convictions. Meanwhile, their father is worried about how to convince people to give more money, so that we can repair the building, keep the lights on, and pay the staff. Things that need to get done within the church. But I was reminded this week that we need to also challenge ourselves to look beyond our walls, and to act as Christian believers and doers.
I wish I had my children’s courage.