And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrew 10:24-25
I am not a “natural” early riser. Yet I set my alarm for 6:10 every Saturday morning, and I do the same for Sundays. Why? Because my commitment to be a disciple of Jesus in the context of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is way more important than my personal preferences when it comes to time, comfort, convenience etc.
I mention this because I am genuinely befuddled when it comes to the “consumer mentality” that defines the approach so many North American church-goers (or “church stay-awayers”) apply to their practice of “Christianity.”
OUR CHURCH ROCKS! But, first, the following important observation. We’d always love to see more people in church, but the three faith-communities where Rebekah has served have all been inspirational examples of faithfulness and commitment – beautiful and Christ-centered exceptions when compared to the “trends” observed in so many congregations.
- Trinity Presbyterian in Pensacola (1982-1996)
- First Presbyterian Church of Brandon (1996-2013), and –
- Right here – at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church (2013 – )
You might find the following national statistics interesting…
- Just 17.7% of the U.S. population attend a Christian church on any given weekend.
- The average size of a Protestant church in America is 124.
- In my denomination – the PC(USA) – “LARGE” congregations are defined as “those with over 250 members.”
- Average attendance decreases as a function of size. Protestant congregations our size (around 800 members) typically see 35% of their congregation on a given Sunday.
- Overall, the average, or mean, number of Presbyterians in worship in 2013 was 97 (our members are neither average nor mean!).
- Of 10,005 active PC(USA) congregations, only 313 are larger than WFPC.
Here in Wake Forest, average weekly attendance runs around 400 (a little less in the summer, a lot more in the fall, winter, and spring), or 50%-plus of membership. By the time we left Brandon, we routinely saw 70% or more in worship. We have consistently bucked the trends because – I believe – our focus has been on building communities of disciples rather than assembling members for the rolls.
CHALLENGE: So let me throw this challenge your way: Take a look at your church attendance (whatever congregation and denomination you’re a part of). If you show up once a month, then make a commitment to come twice. If you make it to worship 50% of the time, then make a promise God you will make it to church it least three times a month.
Here’s what will happen; I guarantee it. Your faithfulness will encourage others. After a while, the increase in church attendance will add a spark of life to the entire congregation. Then, with the natural enthusiasm that accompanies such encouragement, you will begin to experience a renaissance in spiritual life that will propel your faith community forward.
Just because you… and you… and you… and maybe you, made the decision to shift from a membership mindset to a discipleship model.
Go on; I dare you! And invite a friend while you’re at it – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.