How do you get people back into church when they were once strong Christians, and they know the Bible? They've been hurt too many times by other so called Christians, so they just stay home and ignore pleas to go back to church. They never pray out loud any more. They want you to pray, and they will say,
I know of several individuals who currently do not attend church because they are disappointed with the churches around them. Some people stop attending church because the pastor was boring, some negative event occurred, or due to a personal conflict. Some churches do not teach the Word of God. Some churches teach error or false doctrines. Yet, it is not healthy for Christians to stop gathering together with other believers. So lets explore some suggestions.
Pray For Them
First, encourage them to return to church and pray for them. Prayer is very powerful. Sometimes we underestimate prayer. For example, Jesus told His disciples that they could only cast out some demons by prayer. The implication was that mere verbal commands in the name of Jesus Christ were not enough in all cases. For the very difficult situations they had to ask God the Father directly.
When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out . . . When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” (NASB) Mark 9:25-29
God tells us in James 4:2 that we do not have because we do not ask. Therefore, ask God to intervene in their lives and lovingly, graciously encourage them to return to church. Be willing to suffer for Jesus (Matt. 5:9-11; 10:35-36). It is important to remember that we cannot cause someone to be convicted of sin, but the Holy Spirit working through us or someone else can. Scripture states that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11); we need His help to understand spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:10-14), and it is He who guides us into all truth (1 John 2:27). Jesus and the apostles have encouraged us to pray for others. That is the first place to start.
. . . pray without ceasing . . . (NASB) 1Th. 5:17
Unfortunately, many do not realize that the problem may not be with the pastor, the church, or the doctrine but with the individual. The problem may be that he or she is not a Christian or is a baby Christian. That is the message of Hebrews 5:11-14. Some Christians want the “soft-stuff-of-scripture.” They like to feel good and to be comfortable, and are not interested in the solid spiritual food. In Hebrews the Holy Spirit says some of us are “infants” and not mature.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (NASB) Heb. 5:13
As a result, some will be irregular in their attendance because they are not really growing spiritually. They are spiritual babies (perhaps have not yet been born again). The result is explained in Hebrews 10:24-25. We are also told that some want their ears tickled and as a result seek that which is not sound doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (NASB) 2Tim. 4:3-4
Issue of the Heart
For those who have been offended by a “church,” pastor or someone in a church, only forgiveness will heal that wound. It starts in the heart. Notice that the following verse calls us to forgive if there is bitterness in the heart. The indicator that we have bitterness in our soul are the words that we speak, the emotions that we display and our actions. Healing starts with forgiveness. Are your friends displaying any of those signs?
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (NASB) Eph. 4:31-32
The Greatest Concern
But the greatest concern is that your friend(s) may not be a Christian. In the parable of the sower, the seed fell on four types of soil: a path, rocky soil, soil with thorns, and good soil. We are told that the seed which fell on rocky soil died because of persecution and trials.
The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. (NASB) Matt. 13:20-21
Trials, disappointments, discouragement, difficulties eventually come to every believer. How a person responds reveals what type of believer in Jesus Christ he or she truly is.
I would encourage you to challenge them to forgive and obey God by worshipping with other believers. I would encourage you to pray for your friend(s).
Suggested Links:Marks of a Christian
I truly love God, so why do I find it so hard to be regular at church?