I placed my head on the desk and wept. It is the single most challenging part of my ministry. Another person quit the Church.
I always watch with curiosity to see what happens to them after they leave. Do they find another Church home? Do they keep their Christian friends? Do they appear to connect to the Lord in any way? Sadly, many who leave end up drifting further and further away from God.
No matter who they are or how old at the time when someone walks away from the Church it breaks my heart. I pray they find their way to another Church home. I hope they continue following Jesus. Sadly, I am also a realist, and I know what usually happens.
Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13 that I wish he had not shared. He speaks of the word of God being spread onto four soils in the world. One soil never really listens, and the word is taken before it can ever start to germinate. Some seed fell on rocky places and has no roots. When the sun beats down, it dries up and dies. Other seed landed among thorns and the cares of this world choke it out. Only a handful of seeds were planted in good soil and produced fruit. So out of four soils, three of them will never it make it to the harvest.
I hate that story. If taken literally, that means three out of every four people sitting in my congregation will not make it to spiritual maturity. Three out of every four teenagers in my youth group will fall away and never return. The vast majority of people with whom I work will be lost into eternity where I made no difference at all.
Many days I hurt over the seventy-five percent, but I must continually remind myself of the fruitful souls that remain. Today not only do I grieve for what is lost, but I also praise God for what had been found. This day I am one of the twenty-five percent, and if you are reading this, maybe you are too. All the work I do is for you. There is an overwhelming joy to see someone come to Jesus and live a life of devotion to him. To see them walk out in faith and produce the fruit of Jesus in their lives repeatedly.
The glass is a quarter full. Twenty-five percent will produce fruit for the kingdom of God. While it is easy to see the other group and point out their flaws, I want to focus my attention on those who have received God’s grace for life. I want to see the good things that are happening for Christ’s kingdom through them. People are being taught, fed, clothed, visited, encouraged and helped in all sorts of ways in the name of Jesus by a few amazing souls.
The seventy-five percent break my heart – but you – you bring me joy eternally.