Monday, October 27, 2014

RISE OF THE “NONES” Part 3 of 3

Many people in the United States are Christians in name only (“nominal” Christians).  The causes are complex but understanding them is important.   Statistics reveal that the majority of “nominals” will become “nones” (unaffiliated with any religious organization).

Eddie Gibbs, professor emeritus at Fuller Seminary, has found at least three major contributing factors: 

1) Churches have become more preoccupied with individualism and consumerism than lifelong discipleship.  Churches become primarily about what pleases people and meets their needs, and attendance, even membership, do not lead to authentic discipleship – understood to mean a deep total commitment to following Jesus as a way of living.

2) Church members most likely to become nominal are those who avoid close personal relationships where they would receive encouragement for their spiritual maturity, have accountability, and be involved in ministry opportunities.  They will eventually go missing without being missed.

3) Biblical illiteracy is alarmingly high in churches today.   Attenders, even members, do not know what the Bible teaches.   Consequently they become vulnerable to the influence of our secular society.

The answer is that we must make lifelong discipleship of Jesus a major emphasis of the church.  A decision to welcome Christ into your life as your Savior and God is just the first step to being a disciple of Jesus.  The issue then is to follow Him and grow in that personal relationship with Him, growing in our faith.  After all, Jesus never said, “Become a Christian.”  He said, “Follow Me.”  Authentic discipleship takes place in small groups.  And that’s why at Clay Community we consider our small group Bible studies to be of utmost importance. 

To turn the tide of the “nones” is a daunting challenge.  However, if we will take Jesus’ words seriously to believe in Him and believe what He says and make more lifelong followers of Him, we will begin to make a difference in our communities.

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

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