Chase Smith, pastor Fellowship Baptist Church, Shelbyville
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
I recently had a conversation with a pastor in town that observed the lack of growth in many churches in Shelbyville. He pointed out a few churches that were growing and said that it was great to see, but most of the churches, including his own, were just holding on to the members they have and not growing. I see a few key issues to the lack of growth of churches in America.
We live in a country that is growing apathetic to religion and especially Christianity. Most people today are more interested in being ‘spiritual’ than having a relationship with Christ. According to research by the Barna Group, 87% of people in Illinois identified themselves as Christian. That’s a great number, until you read further along in the research. 71% of those people called themselves ‘causal’ Christians, while 16% called themselves ‘captive’ Christians. A captive Christian is someone who follows Christ in faith, prayer, church attendance, reading the Bible, and other Christian attributes. A casual Christian is a person who identifies themselves as a Christian by title only, not by their actual practices and actions.
The church has a large mountain to climb to reach the lost for Christ, but the issue is that most churches are not doing their job of reaching them. Every church welcomes anyone in the community to come to their church, but how many of our churches actively seek out others to tell them about Christ outside the church walls? Christ never intended that He was only to be spoken of in formal gatherings, but gives us specific directions to go everywhere and tell others about Him (Matt 28:18-20).
The issue of shrinking churches is not going to be fixed overnight, but with God’s guidance, it can. Churches need to be more ‘missions minded’ in their thinking, going out to the community to intentionally tell others about Christ. In church, our teaching should accommodate not only our ‘regulars’ but lead our casual visitors and others in becoming true followers and believers.
No matter how good your church is doing—even if it is growing, we can all do more for the Kingdom of God. Talk to your pastor about how you can be more missions minded and strengthen your discipleship in your church.
Chase Smith is the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Shelbyville. For more information from Chase or the church call 774-3636 or visit www.fellowshipinshelbyville.com.