Here's where I break with many of the families in attendance. Many of the families were in home churches or family centered church settings. Some others were in Mennonite Churches. The main thing I heard from many of the people I talked to was a lack of enthusiasm for their church lives back at home. Some had fallen into the trap that the church must only revolve around the family and reaching out to others would somehow taint their ability to raise their kids in the way they wanted to. Some just found church to be a place to learn about the Bible. Learning is good, but I have found I need a soul convicting message from time to time to stay focused on what it is that I, as a Christian, am supposed to do. I was raised in a dying church and from my conversations with many of these families, they are in dying or dried up churches too. It breaks my heart.
A church should be focused on the Great Commission, set forth by Jesus Christ when he reappeared to the disciples after His Resurrection.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. If your church isn't centered around this, you need to find out why. If your church isn't centered around reaching the lost amongst us, why does it exist? If your church is just a place for people to go to feel better about themselves, why go?
There are many Sundays or Wednesdays when I can be found weeping at the altar in my church because I am on my knees before a Holy God asking his forgiveness for my sins and my shortcomings. I was never asked to do this in any other church setting I'd ever attended until I was invited to Marion Avenue Baptist Church. I know I'm nothing with out Christ. I know that I must be broken before I can be of any use to God.
So many times, people get wrapped up in what makes them feel good. I know I did. I took the path of least resistance for so long. I was wallowing in my own iniquity and sin. Until I came to the realization that spiritual growth can't occur until spiritual baggage is let go of, I was unable to grow.
My burden is for this to be made clear, to all who are lost and even all who've been saved but then after their decision to trust Jesus were not discipled and led to grow in their faith, that there is more than just the 4 walls of your house/church. We need to be taking the light of the Gospel to all corners. We can't be afraid to hand out a Bible tract to those we meet. We can't be afraid to tell others. In living for others, we can see God bless our own lives more than we could ever see if we turn inward.
Many of the people I talked to didn't even have actual pastors who were tasked with preaching the Gospel in their churches. Some were in glorified Bible study classes. Learning and memorizing the Bible is great and to be commended. Doing that without applying the principles inside is rather useless. Having a called pastor is a must. That pastor must preach the Gospel and lead people in how to apply God's principles to their daily living. Anything less is dead religion.
People, especially children, need to know the reasons for why they are told to behave in a certain way. If you offer nothing more than, "because I said so" or "Do as I say, not as I do", you'll have children that fall away from God and eschew the Church. I know this happened to me. I was lost and backslidden(that's a Baptist term) for years. I didn't even see it. It has taken me nearly a year to figure out that I need to forgive many people and repent of my own sins to be able to move forward with a joy filled life.
I urge everyone who reads this to find a Bible preaching church where the pastor will challenge you. You should be uncomfortable from time to time. When church becomes comfortable, it starts dying. When you do find a church like I've described, get involved. Help take the saving knowledge of the Gospel to a lost and dying world.