What if Paul had a conversation with the pastor of Local Baptist Church.  Upon giving him a tour, Paul might ask the pastor why there were so many rooms with chairs in them?  The response would be that is where God’s people come on Sunday to study Scripture and pray.  Paul might then get excited thinking how many people are able to fit in all those rooms.

After looking at the size of the worship center and the number of rooms provided for believers to study and pray… Paul might ask, “So tell me… how many people make up Local Baptist Church?”

The Pastor’s reply: “Do you mean how many are members or how many attend?” 

With a look of confusion he asks:  “What?  There are people who are part of this fellowship but DON’T attend?!  Explain that if you don’t mind…”

(Pastor Squirms): “Funny you would ask… I just got those numbers.  I guess it’d be okay to tell you what they are… 1) Church/Sunday School Members… 1000, 2) Member/Attends Another Church… 250, 3) Deployed with the military… 5, 4) Non Resident Members… 550, 5) Members in name only… 35Total membership is 2000.  Then there are 165 who are Sunday School Members Only.  Average Sunday School attendance is 360.

Pastor continues: “All that may confuse you, so let me explain some.  Non Resident Member means they are a member of LBC, but they live somewhere else and haven’t moved their membership to a church in that city.  Then there are some people who just go from church to church to church in the area (We call them “Church Hoppers”) but they never move their membership.  Then…”

Paul interrupts: “Wait!  550 people don’t live here but you still call them members? Why haven’t they joined another church where they live?  That was always the FIRST thing I did when I went to a new city.  Have you talked with them to find out why they haven’t found another fellowship to unite with?”

Pastor: “Uhhh, I don’t know why.  I haven’t talked with them…”

Paul: 250 people attend another church but are still members here?!  That’s crazy!”

Pastor: “Uhhh… Yes sir it is.”

Paul: “There are 165 who aren’t members but ARE members of Sunday School?  That doesn’t make sense.  What are you all teaching?”

Pastor: (Shrug)

Paul: “On average there are only 360 who come each week to study the Bible, pray, & fellowship with each other out of a total of 1,000?!  NO… That can’t be right!  That doesn’t make sense!  Why would they not come to worship with their family??”

Pastor: “I don’t know.  I guess they’re distracted by things like sports… some are tired after working all week… some are sick… some travel… some can’t because of their health… some may have gotten their feelings hurt in the past… and then there are some we just can’t locate.”

Paul: “WAIT!  There some you can’t find?  Seriously?  How hard have you looked?  As for all those other supposed reasons… they aren’t acceptable.  Think they go to work sick sometimes?!”

Pastor: “Well… we’ve decided to focus more on those that do attend than the ones who we can’t find.  It just kind of makes better sense.”

Paul: Let me make sure I’ve got this.  2000 people are members of Local Baptist Church in some form, but of those… 800+ live somewhere else, OR attend another church, OR can’t be found.  RIGHT?  Somehow that makes sense to you?  Doesn’t that bother you?”  

Pastor (Head hanging down): “Yes sir… it does bother me…”

Paul: “Do you remember what our Savior said?  My friend and fellow Apostle Matthew recorded it in his Gospel

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep & one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains & go in search of the one that went astray?  And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. (Matthew 18:12-13)

(Paul continues): You have 1,640 who are astray and you are aren’t weeping over that?!  You are their shepherd!  You are charged with their spiritual welfare and you don’t know where they are?!  You aren’t being faithful to God’s call!”

Pastor: “Hey… have you ever tasted southern fried chicken?!”