Much attention has been given to members of the Millennial generation leaving the church in unprecedented numbers. But older people who have attended church a long time are dropping out as well. They become bored with church not because they want to do less, but because they want to do more. They want a greater sense of purpose for their involvement in church.
- Older Christians are dropping out of church. Recent studies – like the Barna State of the Church 2011 Report – are confirming what pastors are discovering in experience: that long-time, faithful, church-going Christians are checking out of church involvement. These are people who have heard all the sermons, been to all the retreats, and taken their turn in the church’s ministries. They want more from the Christian life than the same old programs year after year.
- We need a better understanding of Christian maturity. In part, the problem is that churches present the wrong idea about what is the goal or fulfillment of the Christian life. It’s not about getting more knowledge or serving more in church. Those are important, but too often people become just cogs keeping the institutional wheels of the church turning. We haven’t cast a vision to people that maturity is about helping people pursue God.
- Keep long-time Christians engaged by giving them greater purpose. Church-going Christians who have seen it all need to be re-engaged with a sense of purpose. Ironically, Jesus has made his people for his people clear, but many churches miss it or institutionalize it. Jesus called his people to make disciples. There is not greater purpose for the Christian life than this, but we don’t expect or train ordinary Christians to do it.
- The greater purpose older Christians need is to mentor others. There is great satisfaction and adventure in engaging others to make disciples, far more than just keeping church programs going. If Christians are making an individual impact in the lives of others, they are less like to drop out. Simple, accessible tools and resources to help people do this can be found at pursueGOD.org, starting with Mentor Training.
Let’s keep long-time Christians engaged by giving them a greater purpose. Let’s equip them and turn them loose to mentor disciples of Jesus.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Do you know any long-time Christians who have stopped being involved in church? If so, what do you know about their reasons?
- What do churches typically expect of faithful members? How might this leave talented people feeling like they want more?
- The “more” many churches offer to engage long-time members is more doctrine or more detailed teaching. What are the pros and cons of this approach?
- Read Matthew 28:18-20. What is the purpose to which Jesus called his followers? What avenues does your church to help people participate in that calling?
- What are some reasons why the majority of Christians don’t mentor others to pursuit God? What can a church do in response to those reasons?
- What would it take from you as a leader to help your church engage people in purposeful disciple-making efforts?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.