Saturday, August 26, 2006

Deathbed Conversions

I was reminded today of an email conversation I had years ago with my boss at a little company I used to work with.

How he came to think of this, I don't know, but he wrote me an email (copying another executive, so maybe it was a lunchtime discussion I was supposed to resolve), but anyway, he wanted to know if you can go to heaven by repenting a minute before you die after living badly during the rest of your life.

Well... yes, I replied, but...

I think that every time you shut your ears to God and turn away when he calls, you harden your heart a little bit. Day after day and year after year of ignoring God can build up a callous heart so that at that moment just before you die you may have no desire whatsoever to repent.

I suggested he not wait for that point. Though I haven't seen him in a long time, I'm still hoping he doesn't wait that long. And if you're reading this and haven't asked God to forgive you, I also hope you don't wait that long.

How to become a Christian

Seeker Churches: Out the Back Door

I was chatting recently with a woman who is the accountant at a "seeker friendly" church. (If you are not familiar with that term "seeker friendly," it means the services primarily address people who are not yet Christians, so the messages are often very basic and evangelistic in nature.)

She said since the church adopted that format some years ago the growth has been astonishing. Many people have made committments to Jesus and the church has grown so much that it now needs larger facilities.

Wonderful! But on the other hand, she said, older members are leaving. She said people hang around for about five years and then go to the church up the street (well, a lot of them do). That church, she said, is more "discipleship" oriented, helping people who are already Christians to grow in their walk with God.

In discussing this we agreed that people just don't want to be stuck in first grade for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, in addition to kind of hurting the pastor's feelings, the people who are leaving her church are the ones who do most of the giving. She said it takes a few years for people to get into the habit of giving, and then when they do, they trot off to the church up the street.

I joked that maybe her church and the church up the street should enter into a partnership.

However, as I've been considering this since our chat, I'm not sure it is a big problem. Maybe churches should specialize, and maybe seeker churches should just consider that their ministry is reaching non-Christians and accomodate themselves to people leaving after a while. Or maybe seeker and discipleship churches really should form partnerships. At minimum, it seems to me that seeker friendly churches need to realize that if they want to hold on to people, they need to provide some paths for them to really deepen their walks with God.