Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
Yes there are many pew warmers but are they all really doing only that. I have found that often these people are going about their daily lives very in tune with God. They struggle with their weaknesses, they strive to show love to those around them to be a picture of God's love. They are involved with non church activities to be a light in the darkness, at scouts, at the gym, in activities with fellow workers. What work do we count as God's work only things done by church approval. Much of our service is just busy work to keep us from really reaching out to those around us.
Get to know the pew warmers find out who they care about and how they are reaching out to them.
Although it has met with some resistence, my church has recently incorporated "equipping classes" rather than traditional adult Sunday school classes. They are six weeks in duration and several are offered at the same time beginning on the same date. By offering very attractive topics, we have had people who have only attended worship now willing to attend a class. I've personally led a class on Creation, Spiritual Warfare, Biblical Perspective on Current Issues (think hot topics like abortion, war, etc.). Other classes offered include areas of marriage, raising children, reaching the lost, etc. It's always challenging but knowing the commitment time is set has, I think, helped people to be willing to attend. Growth has to start somewhere and if you start with something that interests people, hopefully that will get their own interest growing so they read the Bible for themselves and be inclined to put it in to practice!
Discipleship is following Jesus. Jesus gave us the instructions (The Bible) and the Guide (the Holy Spirit). There are no magic formulas, types of worship services, or Christian books that can manufacture what only the Spirit can do. I have a crazy theory. I believe that people who are truly saved (that comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ) will want to serve. Many of the people who choose to remain a receiver (pew warmer) not a giver (a servant) have no desire to follow Christ. These are playing a fatal game with religion (Matthew 7:21). I do, however, believe that there are true Christians who have let the busyness of life crowd out the possibilities of service for the cause of Christ. Romans 12 gives the pattern. We are called to be transformed. As we are transformed, we will serve, because we are a part of the body (spiritually gifted to bond together in mutual edification in order to bring glory to God and unity to the Church). Transformation occurs when the will of a person is broken and conformed to that of Holy Spirit. Classes help those who already want God's Will. Biblically-based preaching and teaching (pulpit or Sunday School) offers the foundation for those who are willing to apply it. Having a great process for new members is wonderful for those who want to get involved. Until the Body of Christ chooses to confront those who place the things of this world over the call of Christ, our churches will continue to make very little difference in the culture. How do we do this? The Biblical pattern, including the method of our Lord, was one-to-one, personal conversations that spoke the truth in love, humility, and respect. I am a pastor, and I see very few pastors willing to confront anyone about anything. One last idea: I do not believe that people can "observe their faith" and choose to neglect their spiritual gifts. In the life of a Christian, faith and deeds are inseparable.
Wow, so glad I stumbled on to your question. This is a burning question among the leadership of my church. Sorry, I don't have an answer for you, yet. The only sure things I know will work are prayer -- consistent, fervent prayer that God will stir his people -- and a move of the Holy Spirit. You would think, knowing that, that we would have moved past this block. But there has been division, jealosies, bitterness and other "acceptable sins" running rampant within our congregation (and, alas, our leadership from time to time). Right now we are going through a wilderness time, I believe; moving from what we were to our new destination.
May God bless both our groups and stir us up to move in love.
My issue is that people in my church are really into the social (fellowship) and the social gospel aspects of our faith. They just do not seem to care to learn more from the Word, to disciple themselves or others, and are terrified of evangelistic efforts. They do "Jazz Church," host interfaith meetings, etc. But, there is almost nothing for growth in the faith. Like Ann, I would love to hear what others are dealing with, doing, thinking.