It is no secret that many traditional grounded congregations are, 1) Losing members, 2) Members are attending less, and 3) Congregations that operate different are growing. I’ve thought about these things and ask the following possibilities be considered to answer 1 and 2 above.
People don’t like drama when the come to WORSHIP. They already deal with it enough at school, work, home, and in the culture. They do NOT want to come to worship and hear the same junk. They don’t someone dissing them in God’s House. They are tolerating all that less and less on Sunday. Every time people congregate with fellow believers it should be a time of peace, encouragement, affirmation, help, and blessing. They DON’T need to hear about football… or politics… or what other preachers/churches are doing “wrong”… OR get a lashing by the preacher from the pulpit! Consider…
1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
Luke 4:22 And all spoke well of (Jesus) and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.
Healthy congregations are places where God’s people love being there, they love worshiping together, they love praying and hearing God’s Word proclaimed. Also, peace reigns among God’s people and their leaders are full of grace with the fellowship speaking well of them. Those things don’t “just happen,” they are the result of conscious actions of the leaders and people. On this point I like this concept, “We don’t talk about people, we talk to them” when it comes to dealing with tension between people in the congregation.
Important text for the following thoughts… Romans 2:24, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Trust me, if/when a person (Or people) in a congregation (Including the minister) foster a climate of unrest, guilt, or criticism… the eventual result will be that people leave for other congregations… or just stay home (More likely). Those who stay usually tag those who leave as the sources of contention while in reality that is usually not the case. Eight times out of ten it is the more ardent followers of Christ who are unwilling to fight and/or be part of things that result in contentious interactions in the proverbial “Bad Business Meetings” who leave for other places to worship.
Congregations that are vibrant and growing have several characteristics in my view (In order of importance):
God is glorified in all things,
God’s Word is proclaimed faithfully,
The leaders love and encourage God’s people with a passion,
God’s people are committed to loving one another,
The congregation does not allow contention and disharmony to go unchecked,
The congregation does not allow individuals to be divisive.
So why do people leave one congregation for another? These are a few thoughts to consider in answering the question.