I believe one of the reasons many churches are losing members today is because, for many, the church does not look like Jesus. I believe people still love Jesus and want to follow Jesus today; however, the church does not look like a group of people who have decided to follow Jesus. Church members do not look like a group of people who are on a mission to love others, but look more like some type of religious club created to for members to love themselves, to feel holier and superior than others. Today, people tend to go to church to find happiness or success for themselves.
This is perhaps why the first thing Jesus says we must do once we decide we want to follow him is to “deny ourselves.” We must learn that this thing called “discipleship,” this thing called “church,” is not about us. It is not about achieving a good, happy and successful life or even an eternal life.
Discipleship is not about receiving a blessing. It is about being a blessing to others. It is not about feeding our souls. It is about feeding the hungry. It is not about finding a home. It is about welcoming the outsider. It is not about acquiring spiritual riches. It is about giving everything away to the poor. It is not about getting ahead. It is about sharing with people who can barely get by. It is not about triumph. It is about sacrifice. It is not about gaining eternal life for ourselves. It is about dying to ourselves.
I believe the reason that many churches struggle today is, because, in our attempt to entice, excite and gain new members, we have made the church all about us. We extended the wrong invitation by saying: “Come and join our church where we have programs that are certain to benefit your life!” Instead of extending the invitation of Jesus, saying: “Come and join our church where you will be given opportunities to give your life away. Come and join our church where you will be encouraged to sacrifice and to serve expecting nothing in return.” -Jarrett Banks, Senior Minister