Traveling on the interstate a short time ago, I noticed a bill-board advertising which read, “UNDO ‘I DO’. 1-800-DIVORCE.” And the name of the law firm doing the advertising was, “Family Law Firm.”
This struck me as odd. Why would a law firm imply, through its name, that it has the best interest of families at heart by specializing in divorce? Further I wondered if anyone else picked up on the seeming hypocritical nature of this advertisement.
Then my thoughts drifted towards all the inactive members on church rolls and wondered if anyone picked up on the seeming paradoxical nature of “inactive member.” In the spiritual dimension, that is, the world of the Church, it seems that a significant percentage of Christians have been interested in undoing their commitment to Christ– a spiritual divorce, one could call it. Moreover, it would seem that the cultural mindset of non-commitment has migrated to the Church. During my forty-nine years of ministry, the ease with which some church members move their church status from active to inactive has never cease to surprise me. This attitude has caused me to appreciate, even more deeply, those church members who take their commitment to Christ seriously. Because their hearts have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, they do not allow outward circumstances to dictate the inner atmosphere of the heart.
Over the years, the increase in “inactive members” has stimulated me to analyze more carefully what I, as a pastor, overlook as a person becomes a Christian and joins the Church. I have returned to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 28:19a and pondered afresh Jesus’ words, “As you go, make disciples.” Imagine how odd it would be if we read in the Bible a person being described as an “inactive disciple.” And yet, today in daily conversation describing Christians on our church rolls, “inactive member” (disciple) is not considered odd or strange.
As a pastor, I must share the blame for not teaching properly the new Christian what it means to become a follower of Jesus. I have taught, in the past, “New Member Orientation” but not “New Disciple Orientation.”
This has been the driving force behind our mission’s Tuesday night Bible study. We pursue what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This experience has been richly rewarding as we see people renew their commitment to Christ. What a joy it is when individuals “REDO” their “I DO” to Jesus!
Making Disciples, Ron McCaskill