I've heard it most of my life from the pulpit and in late night chats. "We baptized dozens and where do they go? If everyone we baptized were still here, there wouldn't be enough room for everyone." And then a discussion about what's wrong with the world, the church, the christians, etc. ensues. I've been there in the middle of that conversation many times. Yet, here we are still witnessing this phenomenon in most areas and congregations. Evidently all of our talk hasn't produced much fruit, has it? I've had some things nagging me in the back of my mind lately having to do with why people struggle or leave and what it means to really help and be there for someone. Think of 3 people who are struggling or have left God completely. Why are they living like that? Do you have any idea? I think sometimes we truly don't have any clue, mostly b/c they are probably not like me. They don't respond like me, they don't talk like me or feel like me. So, its safer to just say they don't want to do what's right so they left or they sinned or gave up or whatever.
I'll tell you what I'm seeing and thinking. I think that, at least here in the midwest/south, there are emotional problems multiplying like cancer and are largely being neglected. Pain, anger, alienation, lack of skill, insecurity, you name it, people struggle with it constantly. The struggle is common to man, of course. But a spiritual family is designed to fill in those gaps and help heal the past. But how can any of that growth happen if no one is talking about it?
How aware are you of what kind of emotional struggles the family in the pew next to you have? How comfortable are you with asking your brothers and sisters how their struggles are effecting their emotions, relationships or habits? None of us want the entire world knowing our business, but we all need somebody. Often when serious problems arise, everyone is shocked and had no idea there was even a problem, and certainly not that bad. They never said anything or asked for help. They should ask for help, that's true. But when life is crumbling around you, that can be one of the hardest things to do.
I guess all I'm saying is that it makes sense that people flock to places and people that are genuinely interested in their lives - the good and the bad - and do their best to understand, even if they can't exactly help. If I or the group that I associate with am not creating an environment where people can lay their burdens down and be fed, what's the point?