Imagine that you joined with nine-hundred ninety-nine of your friends to start a new business. You all agree that you will deposit ten percent of your income every week or month into the business account. If the average income for the thousand partners is $44,720 a year, 10% would be $4,472 per year, per person. Multiply that by the one thousand partners and it translates to $4,472,000 a year in gross deposits.
Now keep in mind that the business has not even opened yet. Where do you think the flaw is in this plan and where will it fall short? Answer? Not all of the partners will pay their agreed amount.
The group then decides to try a different approach. This time instead of each contributing ten percent of their income, they will spend eight hours a week working on various odd jobs and use that money to contribute to their venture. Each one will charge $10.75 per hour, which is $86 a week or $4,472 per year per person. They will still accumulate $4,472,000 a year in gross deposits to the general account.
Now where do you think the flaw in this plan might be? Not all will work.
It was Phillips Brooks who said, “It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecrated men.”
Are you beginning to see a common thread running through these schemes? Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the partnership illustrated above is only as strong as its weakest partners. This is the price for doing business with those operating with a weak commitment.
Not only do we see this in business ventures, but also in churches. The lack of commitment among church members is costly to the Lord’s work. We pay the price for this lack of commitment in many ways:
1. Our Worship services will be lifeless. Uncommitted people have no enthusiasm in their worship. The songs, prayers, and sermons of uncommitted people are lifeless rituals, easily detected by visitors.
2. The church will have poor attendance. The difference in attendance between Sunday morning and other services during the week will be distinct and growing greater.
3. The church will see few conversions. Whereas the early church baptized people regularly, a church filled with Christians who place the Lord’s work low on their list of priorities will convert few people.
4. The children of Christians will be lost to Christ. The children of uncommitted members will perceive the lack of commitment of their parents and frequently will decide not to waste their time going through the motions of worship. (Though one should not generalize saying that every unfaithful child was raised by an uncommitted parent.)
5. The church will likely die a slow death. As the membership grows old, members die, and few conversions occur, eventually the churches cease to exist.
You and I are not responsible for making our church faithful. But we do have an obligation and duty to be faithful to our Lord. If we and our fellow members would only fulfill that obligation, our church would be faithful.
It was Vance Havner who said that A wife who is 85% faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. In the same way, there is no such thing as part-time loyalty to Jesus Christ.
There is a commitment crisis in the American Church today. In Russia during the 70-year communist rule, Christians were tested by hardship. In contrast, Americans today are tested by freedom, which is much harder. Since nobody pressures us about our religion, we relax and are only mildly concentrated on Christ, His teachings, and how He wants us to live.
How frustrating that must be for our Savior!