I loved Jerry Sienfeld's response to the persistent telemarketer. I took the last month to do another survey on the behavior of church people and here are the results. But first a little bit of Jerry to set the tone.
How many folks from church call you?
42% said 0
38% said 3
4% said 4-6
14% said 7-10
Nearly half of the respondents, OK, let's not exaggerate 42% - that's 42 in a congregation of 100 or 84 in a congregation of 200, or 420 in a congregation of 1000 -- and for those of you at a mega-church, that's 2,100 out of 5,000 who said zero! Zero people call them. Think about it?!? Maybe I should say think about it hard. If we are going to be known by our love, and we can't even pick up the phone - well, I report you decide.
Did you know that the Vineyard Christian Fellowship did a study about 10 years ago? They found that a newcomer - Christian or otherwise -- needs to make six to seven meaningful friendships in order for them to stay at a church and become a productive disciple. That's six or seven. You can do the math. That would mean having regular contact with six or seven other members of the church, on a regular enough basis, to call the friendship meaningful. And truthfully, the word meaningful probably is the Miller Lite version of a Biblical, accountable relationship. I'm just sayin'.
That's nearly 80%, according to my unscientific pole, who probably won't make it to becoming a productive disciple. I find that sad. As the "keepers of the light," I'd say it is pretty dim on the friendship front. I will admit that calling is not the only way to make a friend, or sustain a friendship. We do have even more impersonal ways to communicate, email, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. You can get a half dozen 140 character updates, complete with emoticons every day...well if you're lucky.
How do you suppose this friend gap happened? I'd like to point a few fingers -- but I won't. It might just a be a good time to take your own inventory - check your cell phone records if you need a reality check, but ask yourself, how good a friend am I?
I have a personal rule that I try to abide by. That is that if I am not willing to be part of the solution, I don't complain about whatever it is that is not getting done. And it sure helps me to avoid being a hypocrite. You might be thinking - I could call a few folks, or I hate the phone, or no one calls me, why should I try? Those are all reasonable thoughts. Maybe you don't need, or want, any friends from church that know your business. I dunno.
Instead of offering the obvious solution, I'd like to go way past making a few calls a week. Let's start here:
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
There are good works that we can do -- ones that God has already prepared for us. If He knew us before we were born, than knowing what He'd like us to do is also in His heart. The problem with just getting on the phone and calling a few folks is that we need to be prepared to open up, share our lives and burdens, listen; well at least half the time, and look for God to make some things happen.
If you really want to be a friend in the biblical sense-- check out this BLOG.
As you can see, you need to prepare yourself to be a friend. It is the work of God's grace in us, part of the sanctification that comes with salvation and the overflow of love as Jesus pours out in our hearts that which is witnessed to by Holy Spirit himself. Err – I mean love.
I guess I am little confused about why we are not taught these things in most churches. Think about it, we can preach salvation every week - in many cases to those that are already saved. We teach coping skills and occasionally some helpful psycho-babble. We talk about tithing, serving, and getting involved in small-groups. We even hear of the love which Jonathan had for David. And yet, in 30+ years, I have never heard a sermon on something "like, make a friend, be a friend." Sure, I have been urged to engage in all kinds of "Christian" activities from servant evangelism to men's retreats and home-groups. Most of the time, if not all the time, is taken up with some sort of religious activity like praying, Bible study, discussion and worship. And fellowship. The super-religious start their sentences “Hi I am so-and-so, how long have you been saved?” There is little of the plain old hanging out where you just get to know someone. Think about 120 disciples in the upper room for 120 days? Is there anyone in your life that you have seen for 120 days straight other than someone from your immediate family?
But Brother David, those were special times. Jesus had just died, and they were afraid and uncertain what to do next—they didn’t even have the Holy Spirit yet -- they needed each other. Why don't you call those 42 folks from church that no one calls and find out if they are afraid and if they know what to do next – oh and are they full of the Holy Spirit? I think you'll be surprised. Vision and relationship comes out of spending time together. Time is the commodity of relationships.
Of course most modern citizens are busy with so many other things-- but did you know that the Bible says our love will eventually grow cold. Did you think that Satan was going to come and turn down a thermostat? I think we are simply going to be too darn busy to care what happens to those around us. It’s already affecting nearly half the church.
Maybe you need to call Home before you call someone else - there might be a message there…