The “All In or All Out” Theory
Recently I read an article written by a man who calls for people to “Quit Church”. The title is stirring and probably got a number of people to read his book with that same title. His whole point was to either give it your all…or not at all! Leave and Get out…now!
I’m sure he believes that this will stir people to support fully all that Christ would have them be and the end results would be that they would be totally committed and there would be no deficit in the church budget and the air conditioning will keep running during the hot summer months and their neighbors will be won to Christ…but he may have convinced the marginal believers to do as he said…QUIT!
If his advice is taken by those with a weakness of faith, eventually churches may look like the one shown here.
We must not forget that only a few church members from all types of churches and denominations, grand or small country gatherings, are often the ones who reach out to the homeless, addicts, victims of disasters and many other needs around the world. When the government or Red Cross is slow at trying to handle the matter, they step in. A hand-full of Christians run many of our hospitals and great universities were started by a few Christians who wanted a better life for everyone. None of them quit even though at times they may have felt that their faith to accomplish was weak and wanted to give up.
There will always be those who warm the pews and others who get fully involved. These people will be at every meeting, on as many committees as possible and are always available. Others will run the other way from such activities for whatever reason. Do we want them to leave forever? How will they replace God in their lives? The emptiness deeply felt and the void will surely be replaced with something else.
God does His work in the heart and the church is sometimes the only safe place that a person may have during times of trial or personal torment. Sometimes it is the stranger who is not a church member that walks into a church and sits on the pew all alone…seeking something…anything to help him or her find a way. They often don’t know that Christ’s Holy Spirit is there waiting in the quiet.
A handful of Christians may have reached deep into their pockets to keep that door open…just for this person sitting alone. It is what they have done as unto the Lord. Not everyone will do this, however, and the church leaders expect this even if they wish that it were different.
When the Church was first founded by the Apostles they had to give it all that they had…and most died a martyr’s death because of it. There is not a pastor alive who would not like to see his church pews filled to overflowing and not have to worry about church politics or any other matter. If only preaching the gospel could bring all people to give their full efforts, it would be grand. Unfortunately, a pastor or priest does not often see the fruits of their labor. Years later, someone may have remembered what they heard or felt in the church service even though their life was less than totally committed at the time.
Sometimes people will say “I’m not getting involved because I have been there and done that in my younger years.” They may have not been told that being a prayer warrior is also being involved. Not everyone can manage to be out-front all the time.
Yet, the minister continues to work with what he or she has and with those who decide to crawl out of bed on Sunday morning and make their way to a pew and to the altar for Holy Communion. Maybe that person never heard a word he said in the sermon, but he finds solace in the grace of the wine and bread, God reaches out to the heart whether the church is full or not.
It is entirely possible that God doesn’t care about church membership or even the church buildings in which we worship. These have been handed down by people who built them to honor God and to not forsake the assembling together as Christians, which we are admonished to do in the Holy Scriptures.
As a church body, we have what we have…those human beings who may be strong or weak. If the church closes because of lack of involvement or funds to operate, then it will close. Others will open even if they are fellowships within homes where they were started by the first Christians. Quitting is still not an option.
Perhaps Chris Sonksen of California who advocates quitting if you can’t step up to the plate, can think about some of these points. He says his organization gives “personal coaching to more than 200 churches and impacts thousands of leaders” with his book Quit Church ( if you can’t give it all). Has he lost sight of the fact that God can reach down and touch a life that is less committed? We would emphasize again, that it may be the open church door that still stands open where one can sit quietly and find relief from a noisy, violent, and often unfriendly world. The Christian church founders, through their courage, brought Christian faith to the world. They never quit when their faith wavered, but encouraged the believers to be “strong in the faith” through every problem.
I remember hearing a minister years ago standing before his congregation and telling them, “I have nothing to say to you today because I am in a desert place.” He then served Holy Communion and I have never forgotten his honesty. Should he have resigned (or quit) his call to ministry at that point? Of course not. He needed the prayers of the people for the rough time he was going through. No, quitting is not an option. How many times must it be said? We pick ourselves up through God’s grace and continue on. He will show the way.
Let’s talk about children. Your child or grandchildren may be the next “apostle” to the world. Removing them from church worship is also not an option because you don’t think you can give your all. Are we going to teach them to QUIT in other areas of their life…if they are somewhat reluctant to give it their all? Are you going to show them by your example that religious faith is not important because your faith is weak? Should we instead teach them that not everyone has the same spiritual foundation or strengths and there is hope for everyone. The theory of “All in or All out” is actually not realistic. We hardly do anything to that extent in life. Nothing is all black or white.
For many people, they baptized their children when they were only an infant. Did that promise you made at that time to raise them in spiritual grace mean only if you yourself were in perfect harmony with God? I doubt it. You have an obligation and vow that was taken for that little one.
I share with you now some special young people who have a message. They are imagining what it will be like when they finally see God face to face. We all will, you know. They also have dreams of the future. Encourage them to love God…even more than you think you do. Help them to take up the banner of faith…even when we may be lacking. These children, like those in our churches, are the future. Don’t quit on them.