Have you ever thought about this? You go to church; but you realize not everybody is the same as you, comes to worship – to serve for the same reasons as you. So what is the difference? What is going on behind the scenes?
There are various ways to approach the question, several ways to answer it. Today, I want us to think a bit about being almost every church member as one of five categories. A few weeks ago, Brent Bullard, a pastor in Nacgdoches, Texas wrote an article for Lifeway research. Brent claims not matter where you go, across denominational lines, you will still find these five categories.
First, there is the Generational Member. 27% of Protestant churchgoers have been at the same church for over a quarter of a century. Often, they go to the church that their parents went to, even their great grandparent. My present church has at least four families that have four generations in attendance – four generations. Preachers come, preachers go, but they will be there forever. And generations are often buried in the back yard cemetery.
Second, there is the Confrontational Member. I know at Baptist churches, we love to fight and we have scars from conflict. Interestingly, and sadly, we fight over doctrine and leadership style less than we do over proposed change, We hate change. SOOOOO … these members leave the church for a short period of time until another’s departure. The two in conflict refuse to worship together into the same sanctuary.
Thirdly, there is the Recreational Member. They come when they fell like it … and often competing commitments will outweigh the one to go to church. 68% of Baptist church members will not be in church on any given Sunday. So if you have 300 members on roll, that’s about 95 average attendance.
Fourthly, there are Relational Members. Friends and groups are important. Churches can be cliquish as long as everyone has a clique. The local church is their family. The problem – one of your friends leaves, you’ll probably leave too.
Fifth and lastly, there are the Devotional Member. Like the first century Christians, these members are devoted to the apostle’s teaching, to the fellowship, to prayer (Acts 2:42). These members are devoted to God – not other members. They provoke others to love and good work. They are at church because that is where God is honored.
A healthy congregation has those who gather for God – not familial generations, not convenience, not relationships, not anything … except His honor. They know the church family, and they care for them.
Which are you? Is it healthy? Will you change?