Statistical Anomalies (At Least to Me)

by Aaron

Sometimes it’s weird trying to write things as a pastor, because I constantly think people will get the wrong idea about the point I’m trying to make. I know I say, “It’s weird,” but it still doesn’t stop me…so here goes. 

I saw this statistic today about people who share their faith in conversations with other people. The whole study was interesting as to why, when, and how they have these “spiritual conversations,” but the thing that I found most interesting was something the article didn’t address. The people who shared about their “faith” the most (upwards of 98%) said, “Faith was very important to them,”  and they had “prayed in the last week,” but only 62% had attended a church service in that same time.

I know you are probably thinking that I would notice this statistical anomaly because I need people to go to church services as my job kind of relies upon it…but you would be wrong. I notice things like this because I am a weirdo who doesn’t really care about a simple pay check. I care about what type and kind of faith people are sharing. You see, I used to be one of the people who said, “A Christian doesn’t have to go to church,” and I still believe that to an extent. Salvation is not dependent upon church attendance; it is dependent upon Jesus and what He has done to rescue us. I will also tell you, however, that the older I get and the more time I spend working in a pastoral role, the more I realize how important it is to actually attend a church and be a participant in the life of its body.

I think telling people about Jesus, but not inviting them into life with other people who are on the same journey, significantly decreases the life God intends for His people to experience. God does save us as individuals, but we are never (ever) meant to see our faith as a solitary thing. Just look how the scriptures speak of our lives when found in Christ:

  • - Matt 12:49-50 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
  • - Eph 1:5 He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
  • - Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
  • - Rom 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

All the scriptures point to us being brought in to a family, with multiple siblings. Paul even says that we are like a body and we all need each other (just like a body needs all of its parts to function) in order to truly live and proclaim who God is to the world.

Yes, churches are full of people who are hypocritical. I call those human beings (I am one and so are you), but we do not get the option of running away from connection to a church family. I do believe that some churches are a better cultural fit for some people, but the only way a family will truly function is by speaking the truth to one another with conversations being influenced by the good news of Jesus. If someone is a hypocritical liar, part of our job is to gently and honestly bring that to their attention, affirm their worth in Christ, and come alongside them in trying to live out the Gospel in their life.

Too often, people stop attending a church because people are hard…this is totally true, and if it bothers you, just imagine how God feels! But what does God do for us? Romans 5:8 While we were still sinners Christ died for us. If we are called to be imitators of God (Eph 5) and ambassadors of Him (2 Cor 5,) then we cannot forsake the family He has given us. So, if you are excited about sharing the Gospel with strangers, I would also encourage you to make friends with those you will also spend eternity with by being connected in a local church.