Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Case Of Misidentification: “I Thought You Were A Christian?”

An unfortunately reality the church faces is the fact that her non-church going members represent her.  In 2010, Helen T. Gray, McClatchy Newspapers, wrote an article title, “Survey: Many Christians Don’t Go To Church.”  She highlighted two people that left the church for 10 and 8 years respectively.  Both of these individuals, even during those years away from church, they considered themselves Christians.  They are examples of people in a recent Barna Group survey that found that three out of five U.S. adults who don't attend church are self-described Christians.  Americans identifying themselves as Christian make up the overwhelming majority, 83 percent, according to Barna. Other polls vary slightly.  In short, we have non-participating and non-crop bearing (fruit of the spirit) people speaking for Christianity.
If the numbers in those surveys are true, then 8 out of 10 people are Christian in America.  You can probably quickly survey your surroundings and see that those numbers can’t be true. In fact, a decade and a half old research refutes those numbers. Two studies on church attendance performed in 1993 and 1996 by C. Kirk Hadaway and P.L. Marler demonstrate that committed church members tend to exaggerate the number of times they attend church. The studies attempt to address a mathematical conundrum. Year after year, 40 percent of Americans tell Gallup pollsters they attended church or synagogue in the past week. Yet church membership has remained flat while the population has grown. Hadaway and Marler decided to take a closer look to see if church members were misreporting the numbers.  In 1993, Hadaway, Marler and researcher Mark Chaves examined attendance at Protestant churches in one Ohio county and in 18 Roman Catholic dioceses across the country. Instead of 40 percent of Protestants attending church each week, they found 20 percent. Instead of the 50 percent of Catholics who say they attend church, they found 28 percent.  The information is dated but it provides a glimpse behind the veil.  It should allow you to realize the enormity of challenge of share and teaching Christ.
Ok, all of that is nice background information but what about you?  Are you representing Christ correctly? How can the church encourage her congregants to be more active.   Let's not confuse going to church or speaking "Church-ese" as the same thing as being a Christian.  Being a Christian is life service...not lip service.  Let me hear your thoughts.

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