NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.
Bible Passages: 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 2:8-10
— Who is responsible when a person drops out of church? Can we help prevent dropouts?
— What symptoms of church burnout have you experienced? Seen in others? How can a concerned Christian brother or sister intervene when spotting church burnout in another?
— Which seems to be the biggest threat in your Christian community — burnout or ministry atrophy? Explain.
Food for thought:
“Healthy church members do not become a dropout statistic.” That might seem like a self-obvious statement, but it is the main point of Session 12 of MasterWork, “I Will Not Be a Church Dropout,” taken from Thom Rainer’s book, “I Will.” Yet many members, and perhaps even the churches to which they belong, have given little consideration to what it means to be a healthy church member. Much less have members taken specific, intentional action to assess their health or to consciously choose to engage in a more church-healthy lifestyle. Like a person without a flu shot in the midst of an outbreak, their complacency puts them at risk for becoming another unhappy statistic.
Rainer identifies two main, broad reasons behind most church dropout cases, the first of which is burnout. For one reason or another, the person becomes disappointed or disillusioned about the church. That can occur with people who are serving where they are not gifted or have no passion, so that their service becomes a burden to them. It can occur because the dropout was doing too much and became resentful of those who he or she thought should be doing more.
Burnout can show itself when someone takes on too many responsibilities either out of enthusiasm for serving the Lord, feelings of guilt for letting something go undone, or a desire to prove oneself and one’s importance. In any case, the time and weight of their activity itself and/or the emotional burden of resenting those who don’t “do their share” wore the dropout down.
Second, church dropouts often do so because of what Rainer terms the “ministry atrophy” factor.
Paul made very clear in Ephesians 2:10 that believers are saved to serve, to do good works. His comparison in 1 Corinthians 12 of the church to a human body likewise stresses that every individual has a role, like each body part has a role. But if a body part is not used, its muscles atrophy, losing tone and ability. So it is with church members who fail to serve as they were designed. Their spiritual muscles atrophy for lack of use in ministry, eventually not even succeeding in getting them to church. They become dropouts.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.