Commitment in life is important. People make commitments in their faith, in relationships, in vocation, and in other areas. How people honor their commitments is what makes the difference.
When it comes to our faith, it is crucially important that we be committed in our walk with God, and service to Him. A central way in how our commitments to God are lived out, is through our connection to, and service in, the local church we call home. Our connection and faithfulness to the local church is a biblical principle. Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Commitment levels are dropping significantly in many churches. Thom Rainer wrote the #1 Reason For The Decline In Church Attendance. The number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. In other words, people are still attending, but not as much. This is certainly true in the church I serve. In any given month, we will have approximately 40% more unique attenders, than we have in average attendance. This makes it very difficult to build continuity and momentum, when many people are attending less frequently.
Carey Nieuwhof wrote 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often. The 10 Reasons are greater affluence; higher focus on kids’ activities; more travel; blended families; online options; the cultural disappearance of guilt; self-directed spirituality; failure to see a direct benefit; valuing attendance over engagement; and a massive culture shift. In the context where I serve, affluence, focus on kids’ activities, and more travel, would be the predominant reasons. When people have money, they travel and it has become common to be out multiple weekends of the year for leisure. Many people think nothing of it. Kids activities, especially sports, have taken over. These activities are driving many family’s schedules and budgets, far more than the church is.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that church attendance is the most significant factor in a person’s level of faith commitment. Yet it is a prominent outward indicator of one’s faith commitment. If commitment at this most basic level is absent or deficient, then it is likely absent or deficient in other areas as well.
What is the church to do? Do we try to guilt people into higher levels of commitment? Obviously this is unbiblical and unhelpful. Do we just consider the church as having been swept away in the cultural milieu, as one of many options, and do the best we can? This does not seem to be a viable option either. The very nature of what it means to be a Christian in the first place, focuses on one’s faith in Christ being central not secondary in life.
God will not love you or care more about you more, if your commitment level is increased. If He did, then we would be relating to Him based on works and not grace. However, if you understand how much God loves you, and His superabundant grace, you will not relegate Him to a secondary place in your life. You will be committed at a high level, because you want to honor God and make Him known. Jesus promised to build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The privilege is ours, to be a part of God’s Kingdom work, as Jesus builds His church.
Consider these questions in evaluating your commitment to God and to His church:
- What does your level of commitment reflect about your relationship with God?
- Is your level of commitment helping or hurting the health and growth of the church you are a part of?
- What is your level of commitment teaching your children?
- Is God calling you to make adjustments in your level of commitment, in order to be more faithful to Him?
- Are you willing to put God first and live in a counter-cultural way for your spiritual well-being, that of your family, your church, and the advancement of the Kingdom of God?
- Are there idols in your life that need to be smashed and done away with, so you can live fully committed to God?
Make this your prayer: Father God, I want to honor You and live with a sincere, wholehearted commitment to You. Show me how to do so, and order my life in a way that reflects this. I will fail on my own, the only way I can do so is in complete surrender to and dependence on You. Thank you for your faithfulness in my life. Find me faithful as I live for Your glory in Jesus’ name.