Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 21- Life Together
November 4 2010 by Catherine Painter, Raleigh speaker, author

Focal Passages: Acts 2:41-47; Hebrews 10:23-25  

When my husband Jack retired from ministry, we began serving interim pastorates. One church had no young adults except two whose parents remained in the church. We located absentees who lived in the area, retrieving as many as possible through telephone “exit interviews.” We discovered that many loved God and enjoyed daily quiet time with Him. Some even expressed gratitude for our attempt to lure them back to the church.

Absenteeism is not a disease but a symptom, and, thankfully, symptoms don’t kill; they merely serve as aids in diagnosing problems that can kill a church (Heb. 10:25).

Among the diseases we discovered were disbelief (faith “educated out of them”), love grown cold, lust resulting in feelings of unworthiness, and worldliness.

One explained, “I thought everybody expected us to leave church once we entered college,” and another confessed, “The weather’s too beautiful not to play tennis.” A few griped to justify their absenteeism, but most agreed they had simply drifted away without any axes to grind.

Sadly, their names were listed as “inactive” in the back of a record book. First, they were out of sight, then out of mind, and finally off the church’s collective conscience and forgotten.
With nurturing, however, some returned.

We found de-churched members harder to reach than un-churched prospects. The un-churched often agree they need the church, while the de-churched have tried church but have given it up, filling their time with other matters.

When our interim church called a pastor, Jack and I left behind a healthy Sunday School class of formerly absentee church members. Today, one of them is a deacon.

Many modern churches would be humiliated if they compared their church to the early church described in Acts 2:42-47. I suggest you list the nine characteristics of the early church, underlining those that define your church. Then talk with your pastor privately about incorporating any missing characteristics into your church, and state your willingness to help.

Mimic bird hunters. Instead of aiming at the whole covey; target one at a time. Jesus’ favorite number was one. He called His disciples one by one. He healed one blind man, forgave one adulteress; witnessed to one woman in Samaria (Jn. 4) who won one entire village.

The early Church grew because her members experienced a togetherness that attracted others. No wonder their hearts were glad.              
11/4/2010 5:38:00 AM by Catherine Painter, Raleigh speaker, author | with 0 comments

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