The Adventist Review recently put out an analysis looking into the attrition rate of the Church. You can find their article HERE. Though I’m curious as to why they seem to have chosen to leave out doctrinal disagreements from their survey, what stood out to me wasn’t so much their results but rather their solution to it.
Image Source: Adventist Review
I have no reason to doubt the results they are reporting, or to question their concern. What stands out to me is their proposed solutions to stem the loss. Below are the final two paragraphs of their analysis.
“For many Seventh-day Adventists, their local church did not prove a loving and supporting community. When they experienced conflict or difficulties, they stopped attending church—and often nobody noticed they had left.
We are not promised an easy road when we become Christians. Jesus is clear about this when He says, “The road is narrow.” However, what is our responsibility as members of the body of Christ in creating guardrails for our fellow members to keep them from drifting away? Knowing that about one quarter of those leaving the church perceived a lack of compassion for hurting people, what could we do to shift that perception? Further, what could be our part in helping someone who recognizes their failures to make the changes they need for reconciliation? How can we support those who are struggling morally or facing marital difficulties, ensuring that they are not isolated? What can be done to train our members to resolve conflicts in a Christ-like way? Let’s remember that Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10) It should be our mission too.”
Notice above that the solution to what they believe to be apostasy is only more law. The Gospel is left out entirely. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ just doesn’t factor in as a solution whatsoever. Instead, they burden their current membership with shaping up and encouraging those around them to do the same.
I’m not saying that law doesn’t have a place in such things at all. Our culture today certainly needs to hear some law rightly preached in how we have all failed to meet Gods perfect standard. But if all you’re giving people is a watered down version of law that they can actually fulfill then the Gospel has no meaning even if you do preach it. In this case the writer for the Adventist Review has only given the former and left out the latter entirely.
One should find a Church that preaches the Law (Matt 5:48) and Gospel (Php 3:9) rightly. Even if membership at such a Church does decline that isn’t what’s important. The thing that matters is that those who are attending are transformed into Christians by the power of God’s Word. Simply entertaining goats with a false law and no gospel fails to be relevant even if it fills the pews.