One Faith, Many Answers

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If we are to attract those in our community who do not attend church, we need to know why they do not attend church.  Over the years I have heard many answers to the question.  One of the complaints is that the church is too restrictive in what they demand of their members. I wonder if as churches we communicate the wrong message.  Individuals in the community only hear what the church is against without knowing how—what the church believes is connected to statements concerning issues in our society.  They fail to see how despite one's profession of faith, members of the church have differing solutions to issues.  I suspect that those who are not familiar with our churches believe every member belongs to one political party and all agree that there is only one way to find solutions to the problems we need to address in our society. Not everyone in the church “thinks” the same way in solving problems but everyone in the church has core beliefs.

I would suggest that the church needs to communicate its core beliefs.  I wrote a book, Life: It is All About God. For my own benefit I attempted to answer four questions that I believe either consciously or subconsciously we all attempt to answer.  The questions are:

  • Who are we?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • What should we do?
  • What should we expect?

I think these are four questions that are answered by all of us in some manner either through our words or our actions. 

I would suggest that the church needs to answer those questions and communicate those answers to our communities.  Rather than making statements for and against issues, the core belief of the church needs to be communicated so that statements made about issues have their roots in our statement of faith.  Those who do not attend church many times see the church being for and against issues rather than seeing the how they relate to the “core beliefs” of the church. 

It may be helpful to do a survey of the community in which you assess why people do not attend church.  I would further suggest that Elders as leaders in the church spend time answering those questions and then communicating those answers to both the congregation and the community. 

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Wondering out loud....  would it be useful for us to have a way of people testifying to their core beliefs in common with Christians, as a way of acknowledging that they belong to God?  Children born in the covenant of believers would identify and feel a belonging even before they make an official profession of faith, but those who come in thru evangelism might not have a way of making their faith and committment known unless and until they understand the confessions they would need to agree to, and have dealt with life issues in a way that is in harmony with their faith.   Yet they believe and are progressing and working on their discipleship.   It would seem that a different type of profession/confession would be very useful in the lifepath of new believers or even young baptized members.   In some cases, individuals may have difficulties with certain small aspects of the confessions, or difficulties with lifestyle that would prevent a formal official profession of faith;  yet they believe and are children of God.   And it is no answer to suggest that they find a different denomination or church, particularly since there is no guarantee that they will find one that there may not be a sticking point with. 

Perhaps these individuals cannot be office bearers for now... but we ought to find a way to acknowledge their participation in the body of Christ.   And  we should not create another form, but rather facilitate a process where they are able to make their own testimony.   (Even most weddings have personal vows individually written;  surely we should do no less for a profession of faith, regardless whether it is an initial "core" profession, or a later "membership" profession).