Mama Train and I were talking the other day about people we grew up with in the church and loved deeply. Sadly, there are a lot of our peers that are no longer faithful. What are the causes for this? How do we break the cycle?
First of all, I know that just being at the church any time the doors are open (in our case, Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night) does not make you a Christian. Especially when you are a child being dragged by your parents. There are so many outside factors that influence people. The day-to-day religious environment of the home is going to have a lot more influence on a person than their trips to the church building. I get that. And I also know that personal conviction plays into it. There are many examples of one child remaining faithful while another doesn’t. As I said, there are lots of factors. But does that mean we give up? Say these people’s souls are a lost cause? I hope not!
What can we do to provide the best foundation for our young people so that when they are adults they seek God and fellowship with other like-minded believers? Let me start by saying for the record that I do believe church attendance is important. That’s not what this post is about though. I believe it comes down to being REAL, being HONEST, and being HOSPITABLE.
Think about your deepest darkest secret. You know the one. The one you are ashamed of, even if it happened years ago and all has been forgiven. The thing that still shapes decisions you make and forms who you are. Now, think about who knows that secret. Those people are most likely the people you are closest to. Your best friend who loves you in spite of all your flaws. Maybe a parent or spouse who loves you unconditionally. These are your true friends. Are they Christians? Are they members of your church? My belief is that they should be. Now, I’m not saying you need to go to Bible Class this Sunday and burst forth with your biggest darkest secret over coffee and donuts, but I do think we need to be more “real” with our Christian family than we typically are. Stay with me here…
Do you find that it’s easier to be open and honest with your flaws or indiscretions or to be your “real” self around secular friends and co-workers than it is with friends from church? Why do you think that is? I know in my case, I believe it’s been due to the fact that I knew they wouldn’t judge me. I didn’t feel like I was held to a higher standard and it was okay to not be “perfect”. Bam. That, I believe is the problem. Classically, we think that once we enter those church building doors, we have to be perfect little Christians. We put on the mask. We are those people who never lose our temper, never watch inappropriate television, never go over the speed limit. Heaven forbid we have a glass of wine with dinner. How ridiculous! We are SINNERS. We are humans with FLAWS. Lots of them! Why do we not share our struggles with our fellow Christians? Because contrary to the classic “church mask,” THEY are sinners too. THEY struggle too. Why should we try to pretend we are perfect??
Brothers and sisters, our closest friends should be Christians. God called us to be united. He likened us to being all parts of one body. How can we do that if we don’t really KNOW one another? If we are not open with our struggles? If we don’t lean on one another?
Growing up, there were a group of families in our church that were always doing things together – lunches, camping trips, ski trips, true fellowship. Now, I know I may not truly know their hearts, but on the whole, It seems the children who grew up in those homes have appeared to turn out to be good, faithful young men and women. I know this issue is more tricky and not as simple as just getting together with other Christians, but I do believe in my heart that it is a good place to start. We need to be having each other over in our homes. We need to meet outside the church building walls. We need to meet our Christian girlfriends for coffee or girls’ nights out. We need to encourage our husbands to do the same in whatever “guy” ways are equivalent. We need to spend time together as families watching our children play in the back yard while we hang out on the porch. We need to give each other a call when we’re feeling overwhelmed. We need to send encouraging texts to one another when we know it’s needed. And how do we know it’s needed?? Because we SHARE our lives. Our struggles. Our failures. Our needs. This is what I believe true Christian fellowship is all about.