The Greatest Concern

Some years ago, I was invited to be a part of a panel discussion with other pastors and student ministry leaders. The topic of the discussion was the attrition of Christian students once they leave high school and attend college. Statistics say that 80 percent of students who faithfully attend church in high school no longer attend by the time they graduate college. This is a trend that has continued for many years.

Why is this happening? The consensus on the panel was that there are just not enough things to do. Not enough churches have activities and events specifically targeting college students. Most agreed that the absence of the activities they had in high school ministry – the activities and events that kept them very busy for Jesus – is the most significant determining factor of why they do not remain faithful in church attendance.

I whole-heartedly disagreed. My response was this:

“The problem is not that college students do not have enough activities provided for them to remain involved. The problem is that too many of them had high school ministries that were focused on events and activities, not a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ and being discipled into the Lordship of the Christ-life.”

I stand by that conviction today. Events and activities can be good, but only when they provide fellowship, are a light to the community, and are the first steps to becoming a disciple.

Far too many ministers I know are focused more on the next event than mentoring the next disciple. If our ministry focuses event to event and success is determined by the size, scope and enjoyment of those activities, we fail. We fail because the people perpetually remain merely “hearers” of the Word. The Apostle James speaks of this. He says hearers of the Word will “delude” or “deceive” themselves (James 1:22). How can we deceive ourselves? By believing that because we are involved in Christian activities, we are servants of Jesus Christ.

I will never forget the words of the late Keith Green, Christian singer and unashamed preacher of the Word. “Going to church makes you no more of a Christian than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” Amen to that! We aren’t made disciples by osmosis. We are made disciples by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and by making Him the Lord and King of our every breath.

Jesus said it like this. When Martha was stressed and offended because her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, the Master responded, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her  (Luke 10:41-42 NLT emphasis mine).

Maybe some of us need to rediscover the one thing worth being concerned about, for ourselves and our disciples.

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  1. On February 09, 2017 Debby says:

    This is true.

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