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Raise Expectations: Don’t just keep them in Church

I remember the conversation vividly.  Sitting alone with parents as they reflect on something I had taught.  It wasn’t necessarily a hugely controversial subject, but rather one that had “rubbed” their child the wrong way.  They knew what I had taught was correct.  They agreed with the teaching.  They also knew that the kid (a late teenager actually) was old enough to handle this type of subject.  However, they worried that teaching such might turn off their kid to “church.”

I’m sure many of you have had this kind of conversation. “I think we need to do more of ____________.” You can probably fill in the blank.  Usually it is some fun activity that a parent knows their child enjoys.  I’m all for fun activities, but then they hit with the reason: I just want to keep my kid in church.

However, this is not something that can only be seen in the lives of parents with their young children and teenagers.  I also hear people say how they wish that a certain person or family would just “stay in church.”

I understand what is meant by this for most people.  Most people see the immense importance of the local church, which is good.  The church is not some optional part of the Christian faith, rather in God’s design when a person is saved they are added to the community of believers, i.e. the church, and they are to live a shared life of worship and service with a local church.

For many though, keeping them in church gives them a sense of security that the person is okay with God.  As long as they are in the pew each week and counted amongst the “faithful,” then they are okay.  This means we gear everything to keeping people them in church.

Sadly, this is not what God desires at all.  In fact, when you read the book of Malachi you realize there are times that God wishes places of worship would be shut down, rather than allow people to go in who do evil in his sight.  God is not looking to keep people in church, rather he is looking for people who are born again disciples.  Those whose deny themselves (submitting to God’s will and teaching not their own), take up their cross (an instrument of death), and follow Jesus.

Revival is a word that is thrown around a lot.  Revival is a needed thing.  I love reading the stories of revival in the history of Israel.  But revival doesn’t happen when we have as our expectation “just keeping them in church.”  Rather we should be seeking to make them disciples.  And guess what, if they are disciples, then they will be in the church!

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  1. I have to agree that it is easy to think that if someone is in church then they also have a close relationship with God. How can we go about helping people to move past “just being there?”

    One-on-one discipleship helps people to actually have accountability and challenges them to not just go through the motions. It also gives whoever is doing the discipling to remember that the heart attitude is the most important.

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