By: Waylon Bailey
Sometimes we wonder if what we do each week is doing any good. To hear some non-Christians speak is to assume that our evangelism, discipleship, and service ministries are useless and without merit.
Does going to church week by week make a difference?
You can make a very strong case that the casual church goer (someone who shows up every six weeks or so) is barely affected by the church or by the gospel.
My observance of the church for all of my adult life leads me to believe that even those who attend more regularly but without taking the gospel home with them are unaffected by their faith.
There is a group within the church–all churches–who are deeply affected by their devotion to God. George Gallup–the pollster–used to call them the 15 percent. They are the 15 percent who attend regularly, serve, teach their children, tithe, and generally practice their faith. Gallup said that these people make a difference wherever they go.
Now additional studies are showing it is true. One of the myths we have heard and believed for the past years has been that Christians divorce at the same rate as those who do not believe. It’s not true. Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut and author of “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites . . . and Other Lies You’ve Been Told,” says the facts don’t support the myth.
These are the facts. Half of the “Nones”–those who claim no religious affiliation–are divorced. 42 percent of self-identified Christians are divorced. There is obviously some separation between those who call themselves Christians and those who deny any faith.
But the statistic that stands out is this. Believers who attend church every week divorce much less than the general population. For evangelical Christians, divorce occurs for about 34 percent. For Mainline Protestants, it is 32 percent. For Catholics who show up for church every week, it is 23 percent.
Being a part of Gallup’s 15 percent makes a difference. Isn’t that what Jesus called us to do, take up our cross and follow Him? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God about all else, and he will give you everything you need” (Luke 12:29-31, NLT).
It does make a difference–for both this time and for eternity. Don’t give up, and don’t be weary in doing good.