I think I’ve seen you before.

You visited my church once after visiting a few others. I never saw you again, and that’s okay, but I hope you’ve found and plugged yourself into a good church.

No, this isn’t going to be a guilt-trip session on how Scripture assumes that a Christ follower will also be connected to his body, the church, although that’s true.

This isn’t even going to be a spiel on why you practically need the church, although that list could be long and meaningful.

I just want to ask you to consider how your present participation in the church, or lack thereof, will reverberate not just on the future church, but also on the future you.

Why You Haven’t Committed

If I had to guess why you haven’t committed to a church, I would say it’s because you probably haven’t found the right fit, or you haven’t found the time to take the search seriously.

There could be other reasons. There’s always the fear of buyer’s remorse. Or perhaps it’s personal frustration. You’re tired of churches treating you like an grown kid. You don’t appreciate the sermon jabs at millennials, and you’re resolved to stop being used as mere volunteer manpower for childcare or chair setup. Or you may just be sick of the seeming irrelevance of the church to everyday life and society. Pressing social concerns seem to be ignored by churches, while they continue to drive their own agendas.

Be the Change You Want to See

I resonate with these concerns too. I see it. I get it. I really do.

But please know that in the blink of an eye, your “young adult” years will be over. You’ll have a career. You may even get married and become a parent. And as you try to sort through the complexities of life, the local church will be there, waiting for you and your family.

Should you show up one future Sunday, you may realize that many of the same issues you once had with the local church still exist. You’ll be tempted to ask, Why hasn’t the church changed since my college days?

And should you choose to stick around for whatever reason, someone may even ask you to help in some kind of leadership role, and you will realize you have no clue as to how, because you had never tried.

At that moment, it will dawn on you that just as the church hasn’t changed much, you haven’t changed much either.

Because here’s the thing. The future church will be shaped by your current investment. The future “you” will be shaped as you involve yourself in the life of the church today.

And what if you forfeit this responsibility? What if you never commit to a church? What will that mean for tomorrow’s church and tomorrow’s you?

The future church will be shaped by your current investment.

Time to Take Ownership

I am convinced there comes a point in every generation when young men and women of God rise up and say, “This is God’s church—and therefore, I will make it mine, despite its imperfections.”

This is a defining moment of taking ownership and becoming stakeholders in the church.

But if we whiff, if we fail to invest through commitment, attendance, perseverance, service, and so forth, we will reap the future state of the church through the very absence we sowed. And we will have to explain to our children why churches are the way they are. And they’ll know we whiffed.

If we fail to invest through commitment, attendance, perseverance, and service, we will reap the future state of the church through the very absence we sowed.

This is why saying “Yes” to church membership, “Yes” to church authority, “Yes” to accountability, and “Yes” to corporate worship matter s— because these small investments today will yield profound returns tomorrow.

I’m not saying churches are flawless. I know churches can do a better job listening and making things more relevant, but it’s on us to not sink to the lowest common denominator.

Our generation needs to rise up.

Shape the Future Church

The good news is I’m already seeing it as a college pastor.

Every week I see students owning their part in the local church, even as they are fully aware of its imperfections. They proactively invest in their church as they attend, give, serve, burn out, and get back up. They’re shaping the future of their church as they’re being shaped themselves.

I believe in your generation, as do countless others. I believe that if you choose to land in a church and commit to serving there—even though it will be costly and frustrating and no doubt uncomfortable—you will be part of strengthening and renewing the church of King Jesus for the next generation.


Editors’ note: 

A version of this article originally appeared at SOLA Network.

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