I have been thinking about commitment to what we call “church.” A church is not a building, but the people inside it. I’m not committed to a building, but I go to the same one every Sunday morning. I’m dedicated to others that attend there regularly. I also choose to participate while I’m there; I have found several ways to use my talents and energy to serve (cleaning, being a greeter, playing the drums, teaching, praying for others, etc).
“Joining” a church is simple – show up. Becoming a member is a little more complicated (depending on the church/denomination/etc). But being a part of a church is something far more… It’s giving of yourself. It’s coming together with others to take part of and to hope to accomplish something bigger than you could do on your own.
I understand that some people just want a place to go, listen to a song or two, hear a message (hopefully get inspired), and go home – I did that for a huge chunk of my life. Honestly, that’s not what church is really about. Those are elements of a church service, but the church itself is a group of like-minded individuals, coming together to do life as a family. They meet regularly, but also connect outside of the church building. They are in the business of changing the world.
I know, not every church has this mentality. Not every church is mission-minded. There are still some very old-school congregations that seem to exist only out of habit – those are not the places I’m speaking of in this post.
Every church has its own mission. Every church has its own style, flavor, and flow. Every church is unique because of the people that are a part of it – which attracts those that attend it and will hopefully become a part of it if it is the right “fit” for them.
But, instead, we seem to have a fluidity within the church. Statistically, only 20% of the people that attend a church are actually contributing to it. That means, more than likely, someone else is teaching your kid, cleaning the toilet you use, putting words on the screen for you to sing, opening the door for you… It also means 80% of those in attendance have nothing keeping them there.It means that any given Sunday 80% of the congregation might choose to attend a different church. 80% of the congregation is not committed to the people at the other end of the pew and might never come back.
“Church” seems to be the only organization that people become members of without becoming fully invested. In any other club, fraternity, or non-profit organization a person becomes affiliated with, they give to financially and help out whenever possible.
(Even in a motorcycle gang, every member has a job. No one just starts showing up, puts on a vest, and rides at the back of the pack. They also don’t just quit to join another gang.)
Trying different churches and finding the right fit is a good thing! Never getting involved is not. We, church-goers, all have the responsibility of getting on-board our church’s mission and taking care of one another, finding out where we can help, rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. Why? Because that’s life. That’s what you do for family, friends, and neighbors.