Any Christian who is active in their faith knows that our life as a follower of Christ should consist of loving God and loving people with the same sacrificial love that God pours out on us. Because we are commanded to love people, the Great Commission is not just part of the job description for pastors and missionaries, but for all believers.
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says to the disciples: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus commanded all Christ followers to evangelize and reach the lost. So how do we know who is “lost” and in need of having the love of Jesus shared with them?
Up until the mid-20th Century in America it was easy to tell apart the Christian from the “lost” person. The majority of Christians in America at the time were active in a church so anyone who was not regularly in attendance fell into the “lost” category.
However, in modern times we have reached a point where there could actually be more “dropout believers” than the lost. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the term, a “dropout believer” – it relates to anyone who once attended a church and was active in their church, only to decide to disconnect themselves from building a community with the Body of Christ – the Church.
It was revealed in a 2016 study by the Barna Group that about 30% of the people in North America are what we would traditionally consider the “lost.” That leaves over 57% of people in the category of those who claim they are Christians but have dropped out of attending their local church.
All of the usual ways that Christians try to evangelize will largely not work being that the majority of people they will meet will not truly be ignorant of knowing God. Out of every seven people who do not attend a church, four of those people will be dropout Christians who have already built up their opinions regarding the Church.
If you have ever actively tried to evangelize to someone you thought was “lost,” chances are very likely that you’ve been met with at least one of these responses:
- I believe in Jesus just not church.
- There are too many hypocrites.
- They hurt me – never again.
- It’s just me and Jesus.
- Nature is my church.
- It’s not a priority.
- I know the Gospel, I know Jesus, I just don’t need or want the Church.
While it may be true that they are continuing their relationship with Jesus and they were hurt by the members of a church, what is definitely a lie from the enemy is that we are not meant to be connected with the Body of Christ. The Bible says that each Christ follower is like a different part of the body – how can the foot perform its job properly if it is not working together with the legs, waist and all of the other parts of the body?
We need to be evangelising both the lost and the dropout Christian. In order to effectively reach those who have left the Church, we need to find another strategy than just the old methods of sharing the message of the Gospel that the dropout Christian has already heard and received.
Because as much as God wants us to save the lost, He also desires for the ones who have walked away to return to Him and join in the goodness that the Kingdom of God has to offer all.
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