Percentages are interesting and can often give us the big picture at a glance. For instance, over 80% of Americans say that they believe in God. That sounds really good, doesn’t it? For one to say he believes in God requires nothing but making a statement. The question is, what do those people believe about God? There is no salvation in merely believing God exists. The Bible says the person who says in his heart that there is no God is a fool. The evidence of what we really believe is seen in what we do.
In Bible Belt Mississippi, 70% of the people are unchurched. Does unchurched mean lost? It very well might. It’s hard to imagine one whose heart is married to the Savior, who has no desire to be involved in His activities. It’s kind of like a man telling his wife, “I love you, but I am not coming home, I’m not supporting you, and I’m not going to care about the things you care about.”
All too often, those of us who do attend church are the biggest hindrance to bringing in those who don’t attend. We so easily become self-centered, giving very little thought to what it would take to bring in the unchurched.
I’ve read that more than 75% of those who graduate high school and go off to college, leave the church to never return. They were carried to church all their life, but for some reason, it has taken so little hold on their life, they can’t wait to get away from it. One country song says, “If you’ve been married seven times, it might just be you!” If the church is losing more than 7 out of 10 high school graduates, it just might be something about the church. What could it be? That’s a question that every church member ought to be praying about for an answer. Every pastor, and every deacon, ought to be searching for ways to make church more appealing and relevant to this next generation. We cannot and would not compromise the gospel, that is, the message, but we must alter our methods to something that works.
A friend stopped by the office recently to show me his 1957 Pontiac, two door hardtop. As I looked at that car, my mind went back to the “good old days,” when cars were really cars. But then I realized, those days aren’t coming back, because needs have changed, therefore cars have changed. The fact is, in 1957 if somebody had a hundred thousand miles on a car, it was absolutely worn out. Today’s cars run two and three hundred thousand miles, and they do it much more fuel efficiently. In 1957, people averaged about 12 MPG. Today, many cars get three times that. Cars were great back then, but things couldn’t stay that way, because people changed, their needs changed, therefore the auto industry had the wisdom to make necessary changes.
On the other hand, there are some things that must never change. Maybe the reason 75% of high school graduates walk away from church is because the church, in all of its flurry of activities and sermons, somehow failed to point them to Christ. Maybe they saw no older believers who modeled a daily love for Jesus that was made evident through the life they lived. Maybe they saw hypocrisy when they were looking for example.
We must be faithful, and we must do things in a way that will grab the attention of this generation coming behind us.