“The facts speak for themselves. Nine out of 10 churches in America are declining or growing at a pace slower than the rate of their communities. Churches limp along as members drift out the proverbial back door. So what can church leaders do to stop the exodus?”
Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources and best-selling author, suggests American congregations are weak and in decline because church members have lost the biblical understanding of what it means to be part of the body of Christ, Pipes writes.
God places people in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the Gospel, Rainer says. Many people, however, join churches expecting to be served, fed and cared for.
As churches in North America exert declining influence in the culture, church members are tempted to blame secular culture, national politics or church leaders, Rainer adds. Instead, church members should look in the mirror.
“We are not hindered by external forces,” Rainer says. “We are hindered by our own lack of commitment and selflessness.”
Rainer’s new book, I Am a Church Member, explains the basic commitments involved in being part of the body of believers in a local setting.
Rainer said he prays his book helps change attitudes toward church membership. “I am even bold enough to pray that God will use it to change hearts from self-serving to serving,” Rainer says. “As the church gets healthier, it will have a greater impact on its community and the world.”