No, you did not misread that. To repeat, on average across America, more than 50% of those believers who should be in your church are not.
Allow me to clarify. By dropout, we mean one who professes a Christian belief but has willfully disconnected themselves with any meaningful relationship to the church—the body of Christ.
The Barna Group, which tracks church trends across America, conducted a survey a few years ago that presented startling statistics: For every 10 adult Americans, 7 professed a Christian belief. But of those seven, only three were active in a church. Think of what that means: 4 out of 7 professed believers are no longer active in church.
That is almost 55% of professed Christians. These are dropouts.
This statistic should be alarming and disturbing to every active believer and church pastor. This is a wake-up call about the present-day condition of the Western church.
Picture Christ’s Whole Church
Can you imagine what it would be like if all dropouts were in church?! Based on these stats, we are saying that your church would essentially double in size on the average.
Dropout believers who are restored to the church are not pew sitters. Far from it. They are filled with gratitude for God’s redeeming grace to them and show it. They give generously. They get involved in serving. They actively look for others who were like themselves and reach out to them. Yes! If your church were to double in size due to restored dropouts, your “20% who do (and give the) 80%” would become the 60% who do and give 80%. (Do the math.) Your resources—human and financial—have just tripled!
It’s Not Just America
Although this trend is tracked closely in America, the stats are even more alarming for Europe, and Central and South America are also experiencing this trend. We refer to these collectively as the Western church. About the only geographical segment of the church not experiencing this trend are the persecuted church countries in the Middle and Far East.
I can confidently say that almost every active believer and certainly every pastor knows some dropouts. Some are friends, some are family members, some are neighbors, some are work associates. The western church has not yet recognized nor understood how to pursue these wandering sheep back to the fold of the church. Yes, we sometimes do think of these and offer prayers, which is good and vital, but it is not enough.
The traditional means of evangelism, which include things like invitations to church, events, concerts and so on, are generally not well received by dropouts. A host of objections generally revolving around “I’ve already been there, done that” preempt a positive response. Why is that?
What About ‘Evangelism’?
Our traditional understanding of evangelism revolves around preaching the Gospel to the lost. This is not effective for the dropout believer. You see, they have already heard the Gospel. They believe in Jesus—they just don’t care for His people, or they have other excuses. You’re not going to get results by invitations to church, events or preaching the Gospel. Their false belief systems have set aside the necessity of church community. These beliefs are strongholds that have to be brought down if they are to be reconciled to Christ and His body. A one-day or a casual-type interaction with a dropout will change and accomplish nothing.
The only thing that will work to reconcile a dropout back to the community of believers is a consistent, loving relationship with an active believer over time. The lost respond in their heart to the Gospel, the love of God for them. Dropouts respond in their heart to the love of Christ for them demonstrated by believers. If you want more insight into this phenomenon, see Could This Be the Biggest Myth in Evangelism Today?
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SOURCE: Charisma News