I want to back up a bit. I'm writing a series of books and today's chapter topic stood out as one that I should include here. Writing is a wonderful way to get your thoughts flowing, isn't it?
A major factor in the shrinking church is the amount of information now available to the new believer. While many would say information is always a good thing, I'd like to make the case that we're losing a great number of people because of the information available.
Here's the scenario I use in my book:
Remember your first day of kindergarten? If not, think about your child's first day. When you first walked into that room, you were awestruck. Everything was a wonder. All the little chairs and desks neatly arranged. The alphabet running along the top of the walls. The smell of glue. The jars of paints. You'd never been so thrilled in your life.
Now imagine this: as you walked through the door for your first day, there's a high school senior standard there with a smirk on his face. He tells you about the thirteen years of tests, homework, bullies, and pretty girls that snicker as you pass by. He tells you that you'd better start practicing now if there's any hope of making the basketball team. And the SATs. Oh, my, wait 'till you experience the pressure surrounding those!
By now you've turned tail and run home to your Tinker Toys.
While this scenario seems silly, it's very close to what happens to the person who has finally decided to step out in faith and believe in a loving God and his Son. Often, within a day or even an hour of believing, the new Christian is accosted by the Expert. And there are plenty of them. The Expert explains what you should believe, where you should worship, how you are to be baptized, which bible version is correct, and what not to watch on television. You are directed to a series of approved books explaining the history of Israel, how to be a Godly wife, and how to prepare for the End Times. Before you do all that, though, please sign up to serve coffee after church or do your time in the nursery.
It's enough to send you back to the Tinker Toys.
If we can just allow the new believer to bask in the glow of this new discovery, take in the sights, sounds, smells, rummage around in the empty cubby hole under his desk. Maybe, if we can keep our Expert mouths shut long enough, we'll have a new friend.
If, however, our desire to steer our new convert in the "correct" direction is more important to us than letting her take that first childlike step with all the wonder that comes with it, then we're destined to become a body of believers cut off from the world and shrinking in numbers.