You can’t stop people leaving your church. You can try to minimise it by more effective care and discipleship, but you can’t stop it.
Jesus prophesied that not everyone would make it. Some seed would fall on shallow soil and some on ground with thorns. Some will hear the word gladly, but fail to hold onto it in troubled times. Others will receive it but allow doubt and distraction to sabotage it. There are others, though, who are the good soil. Revivals come from good soil. Often it represents the quiet achiever, the no fuss people, the low maintenance people.
While we look for the next whiz kid who can take everyone to the third heaven in worship there’s a group of faithfuls who go about their Christian business, simply hearing the word and doing it. No fireworks. No depressions. They enjoy your sermons not because it tickles the ear but because it works. They eat a balanced diet that gives them all they need to personally and corporately pursue the will of God.
Jesus prophesied that something extraordinary will come from them. He referred to a multiplication. Thirty times, maybe sixty times, maybe one hundred times growth. That’s revival. Sometimes we preach to the people who aren’t with us in heart and tend to ignore those who are (Catch up with ‘Bridley Jones Diary’ in the mag). We tend not to preach to the choir but preach to the absentees who aren’t ever around to hear such fantastic and pertinent preaching. Instead of encouraging and thanking those who turn up to the all important, crucial prayer meeting we direct our prayers of frustration to those who didn’t. It’s time to preach and minister to the sheep that are ours and the sheep that are present! The sheep that know our voice. The sheep that have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and therefore have decided to follow the under shepherds like you and me.
As we strengthen the good hearted, we will one day multiply the good hearted. Within every congregation is the reachable church. It’s that church that God wants you to focus on. Bless everyone, but only disciple the disciples. How do you know who is a true disciple of Jesus? The answer is simple – teachability. If people aren’t teachable they’re not yours to teach. If they’re not growing in God, they’ve neglected the very heart of Christianity becoming like Jesus.
Stop sweating over the people who say goodbye and start rejoicing over the potential over those who stay. The future of the church is right under your nose.