Here we are at part seven of our I Will video challenge, and the topic is “I will not be a church dropout.”
This chapter is about church involvement, and when there is too much involvement, it may lead to the LACK of church involvement, people dropping out. Rainer writes about when some people get involved in a church, they basically move from NO involvement to TOTAL immersion in a church. They love God and want to serve him with a whole heart, and then the time spent with church activities begins to affect their family.
These new members may begin to see the “not-so-perfect” side of church life, they get discouraged, they get tired, and so they drop out. Rainer brings up another grim reality, that church can sometimes bring big disappointment and big disillusionment. This is so sad.
It’s good to know that “burnout syndrome” is a real thing. People dropping out of church doesn’t always involve hurt feelings, or some dissatisfaction with the direction of the church. Sometimes people overcommit in too many areas, which brings stress and burnout. The point is our motivation; that we serve to please God rather than serve to please people.
Many believers want to serve, but it’s so important to check our motivation. When it’s done out of our love for God, and appreciation for what Christ has done for us, then we hope to serve with a pure motive. But what happens when a believer is serving to score points with God? That is the classic definition of a works righteousness; we do good stuff to earn our salvation. This is totally opposite to the proper perspective that we do good works BECAUSE of our salvation, not to EARN it. This is the age-old tension between works and grace.
We always point to Ephesians 2:8-9 about being saved by grace through faith, that it’s not of works lest we boast about our accomplishment. But remember that we must never leave off Ephesians 2:10 – that we are created for good works. Ken is going to preach on this passage this Sunday.
What if we don’t serve at all? Rainer calls this danger, “spiritual atrophy.” Just like in the human body, organs and tissue will waste away if they are not used. He gets very blunt and writes that this same thing can happen to church members. If they are not serving, they will waste away; he even goes so far as to say, if you’re not serving your church, you’re not a legitimate church member.
The body of Christ is made up of many members, each having a job to do and a role to play. If all your human body parts were not functioning properly, we call that being disabled. The church cannot become disabled because the gospel is the only hope for a lost world. We need all the body working together to embrace and exhibit community, faith, and love throughout our city.
Rainer says that burnout happens primarily for two reasons: 1) members become overcommitted and drop out, and 2) some members don’t serve at all for a variety of reasons. Either extreme is wrong. Serving out of a legalistic obligation has the wrong motives, while failing to serve has the wrong actions.
Rainer get blunt at the end of the chapter, saying, an inactive church member is an oxymoron and a church dropout is a disobedient Christian.
I hope you will discuss this chapter in your small group. The goal is to get everyone on board with the vision of the church, and the mission that Jesus left for us to accomplish, the task of making disciples who will in turn make other disciples.
Will you make the commitment? “I will not be a church dropout.”