Last week, I posted a blog on “7 Reasons Pastoring is Harder Today.” That post gained traction – and then forced me to consider whether it’s more difficult to be a church member today than it was when I started ministry 35+ years ago. I think it probably is more difficult today, and here are some reasons why:
- Members know too many stories of fallen church leaders. The Internet hasn’t helped here. Failures are now more public, and thus seem much more common. It’s tough to trust church leaders and churches when you wonder if/when their leaders, too, will fall.
- The world competes more with “church times.” I know our typical service times are not sacred, but very few things competed with these times years ago. Now, parents have to make hard calls when sports activities and school events compete with church.
- We’ve promoted a consumer mentality for church. We leaders have allowed it to happen by sometimes watering down the gospel to gain a crowd and by affirming growth that is only transfer growth. Consumers don’t have to be faithful to one church; they can simply remain “shoppers.”
- Undiscipled members don’t know what faithful Christian living and church membership require. Members who haven’t been grounded in the gospel – and that’s a lot of church members today – don’t often stand strong as members of the Body of Christ. They turn to sin and false teachings that are so much more magnified and broadcast today via the Internet and social media.
- Too much preaching is boring. I’m sure some preaching has always been less than engaging, but the Internet has only magnified the problem while offering other options. If you don’t like the preaching in your church, you can listen to better preaching on your computer or your phone.
- Churches equate “faithfulness” with activity — and our busyness gets in the way of faithfulness. Equating activity with faithfulness is a wrong understanding, of course. Nevertheless, it feels like our lives are so much busier now than years ago, and that makes it difficult to do all the church expects. Back then, we weren’t checking emails, doing Google searches, or traveling every weekend.
- More churches are taking church discipline seriously. This trend is actually one of the positive reasons it’s harder to be a faithful church member today, in my judgment. More churches are strengthening expectations to join a church, and they’re holding members accountable when they ignore their covenantal commitments. Few of us were talking about these issues three decades ago.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from church members and lay leaders. Is being a faithful church member harder today?