I want to speak to you from my heart today about a matter that bothers me as a pastor, and I particularly want to address my listeners who are Generation Xers and Millennials. There seems to be a growing problem with commitment in our evangelical churches, especially among you younger adults. Church attendance has become a hit-and-miss proposition among many of you, and willingness to commit to service within a church is increasingly rare. Expecting people to attend all of the services of a church regularly (with obvious exceptions for sickness and vacations) appears to be too much to ask. Most younger evangelicals are content merely to put in an appearance at one service a week, prompting many churches to give up offering any more opportunities than Sunday mornings. This is a marked change from your parents and grandparents. Why is this so?
Let me suggest that we in the Baby Boomer Generation bear a great deal of the blame. Our generation was the first to have widespread two-income families. With both parents working, many of you Generation Xers and Millennials were shunted off to daycare; and many of you were enrolled in a whole host of extracurricular activities. You played on school athletic teams or joined after school sports programs—many of which eventually came to be run on Sundays. You were signed up for martial arts training, ballet, swimming, or gymnastics lessons; you took piano lessons or studied some other musical instrument. You participated in drama and art classes, you went for after-school tutoring, and you were pressured to study hard so as to get into the best colleges. Some of you were also involved in children’s and youth ministries in your churches. In short, you rarely had time to rest, to think, or to play with your friends.
Now you’re adults with kids of your own, and the cycle is repeating, with the addition of social media. Only it’s not just your kids. You as young adults are still in the over-committed mode of your childhood. You work long hours, but then have a whole host of activities in which you participate after work or on weekends. The problem is, however, that even though you profess to be born-again believers, your church involvement is minimal at best, and in fact, many of you prefer cafeteria spirituality, remaining sufficiently uncommitted so as to be free to visit a plurality of churches according to the dictates of your moods on any given Sunday.
Can I ask you, please, to reconsider your ways? The fact that so many of you can’t be counted on is doing significant damage to the life and ministries of our churches. We need you to be committed. And what does commitment mean? It means that when you become a Christian, the Lord Jesus Christ takes first place in your life and family, and that in turn, means that there will be activities, recreation, and commitments you enjoy that you will have to give up. You can’t do everything; you must make choices. But God is always to be first. You’re probably tired of hearing that Scripture says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25). Moreover, the Lord Jesus himself said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Mt 6:19-20). Yes, commitment costs.
But think of this: your children are learning from you, just as you did from your parents. So ask yourself, “what am I teaching them?” And then seriously consider getting all in at your church, for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). Here, then, is the blessed truth: commitment pays!