We've compartmentalized our lives into various cells with little overlap. We have our work cell, our family cell, our hobby cell, and our church cell. In addition, there are numerous other segments of many of these cells such as baseball practice and games for the children or volunteering at a charity event.
There is little wonder that growing as disciples of Jesus Christ is so difficult for many believers. We've isolated our Christian life from every other area of our lives, and that particular cell is given very little time.
For several years I've had youth and children's ministers complain about the declining numbers of young people involved in their ministries. There are several reasons for this.
- According to Tom Rainer's research only about 15 percent of Millennials are Christians. Since many of the parents are in this generation it stands to reason that if few of them are Christians we will see fewer young people and children involved in our churches.
- We have a growing number of children and young people growing up in single-parent and blended families. Often, they spend every other weekend with the non-custodial parent so they may only be able to attend their home church half-time at best.
- Many of the parents, even Christian parents, do not see the need to make youth and children's ministries a priority in their families. Several years ago when I was pastor of a church we had an excellent youth minister who tried everything possible to develop a strong youth ministry in our small church. He and the youth would plan an activity, and on the day of the activity no one would show up. When asked, they would say that their parents decided to do something else that day. They considered their "family time" to be more important than providing their children an opportunity to be with other Christian young people. When this youth minister resigned the question was asked when we would hire another youth minister. I responded we would hire another youth minister when we had different parents who cared about their children's spiritual development. We never hired another youth minister.
- Although there are no doubt other reasons, the last one we'll mention here is refers back to to the first comment. In many churches we are not socially connected with one another. We do what we need to do to meet our individual spiritual needs and move on to the next thing
This was not the experience of the first century church. In Acts 2 we read that the people were together, sharing meals together, sharing their resources with one another, sharing their lives together. The result of those strong relationships with one another was two-fold. They had favor with the people, and the Lord added to their numbers daily.
We need to take a look at the relationships that exist within our churches. Individually, we need to look at the relationships we have with others within our church. Do we see church as something we do together, or do we see church as something that will meet our individual needs? Is our church involvement something we minimally do each week so we can check it off our to-do list for the week, or is this a relationship we make a priority for ourselves and our families?
There is an old Proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. We could also say it takes a community to raise a disciple of Jesus Christ. Are you part of such a community? If not, what needs to change?