Does attending a church, or not, affect your faith? According to our Canadian stats the answer is definitely yes. Over 60% of young adults who stop attending their faith groups (Church, Home groups, Etc) will drop their faith affiliation within one year of leaving.
Another truth worth looking at is the result of a parent’s church life of the faith of their children. While church attendance does not guarentee your children will be active in their faith, a parent’s non commitment to ‘Church Life’ (Attendance with ministry involvement) almost insure’s their children will drop their faith as they grow up.
You can look at more stats like this in the Hemorhagging Faith Survey. Regardless of the stats, what is evident – ‘We need each other.’ People need community. Faith is best, and was intended, to be lived out in community.
The question should never be whether or not you attending a church. Attending does not ensure spiritual growth, involvement, or your desire to be there. The question needs to be, ‘are you living out your faith within a community of friends?’ It isn’t just about the location, style, or traditions of your particular church. It is about, ‘are we growing, moving, and becoming more like Jesus together?’
The Church is meant to be a ‘covenant community.‘ This is a group of people which has committed itself to the growth, provision, and care of all its members. If we begin to think of ourselves as a covenant community we can see the real meaning of scriptures which speak about the Church.
As an example the Bible tells us there are things Christians ‘must’ do for each other. The first one, which is the foundation for the rest, is love. Jesus said, ‘Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’ (John 13:35) Many faith communities are not known for being loving, but it has to be our goal to be known for that. If we’re known for something else, before this one, we are dead wrong and need to change. Loving others is not presented as an option for anyone who says they are a Christ follower. We are commanded to love. ‘Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning’ (2 John 1:6).
If we are going to enter into a covenant community, we need love because the truth is, it’s not easy to love everyone. It is something we need to ask God to increase in our lives, groups, and churches. We need it if we are going to work out of pure and Godly motives. 1 John 3:16 says, ‘We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.‘
There is a story in the Old Testament that shows us what a covenant looks like. It is the story of two young friends, David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul. After the success David had fighting Goliath and many other foes, Saul became jealous to the point he tried to kill David. However, David and Jonathan became friends. In I Samuel we read, ‘After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself.’ (18:1-3)
Jonathan vowed to try and keep David from harm, even from his own father and he did just that on many occasions. The covenant they shared meant Jonathan lived out what it meant to lay down one’s life for another. Consider this. Jonathan also heard what was being said about David. People all over were saying, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.’ By remaining in his covenant with David and protecting him, Jonathan had to have known he may never be king. Church is meant to be free of self serving, selfish ambition, and people seeking power. We should be a community of serving, love, and dedication to the success of those around us. This is Church.