Imagine for a moment that you have a young daughter, reaching that age where she has begun to notice boys. Until now she had been sweet, obedient, respectful, and a good student, a fine athlete - putting her talents to use. But then she sees a certain boy, young Alex - who is just fantastic in her eyes.
But he isn't interested in your daughter. And so, she becomes a bit more sassy to attract his attention. She doesn't do as well in school because he doesn't like nerdy chicks. She stops playing sports because he doesn't "tomboys". She starts to dress provocatively to attract his attention, clothes tighter and smaller and lower.
Are any fathers going to be pleased with this? And we could go much further, for there are many other things that daughters might do to snare a boy they have their eye on. But in all these cases, the father would beg, plead, ground - do whatever he could to stop his daughter from this foolish, self-destructive course of action. Why lower yourself and give up you who are for the sake of this Alex?
Yet, this is so often exactly what Churches are tempted to do in order to "attract" new members. Our Lutheran Churches have been given a wonderful heritage - a rich liturgy, a strong historical focus on education, clear doctrine, a good understanding of respectfulness towards God. How often do we shrug these off for the sake of "attracting" some new member who isn't really interested in who we are.
We fear they won't like our liturgy - and so we shrug that off for something they might like better.
We fear making things too hard for them - so suddenly it's two weeks and a handshake to join.
We fear complicating things, so instead of teaching things fully, we're lucky if folks know the basics of the Catechism 2 years past confirmation class.
We fear we look to prudish, so we super-relax everything.
If we were daughters acting this way, our fathers would weep.
Now consider again, a daughter. She is smart, intelligent, athletic, gifted in all sorts of ways. Alex doesn't like those types of girls - but the daughter shrugs. She doesn't want someone who will abuse her, treat her poorly, belittle her or be intimidated by her. So she waits - and some day she brings home a good man, one who is kind and intelligent and diligent himself, who is respectful and devoted. We can hope that God sends her such a boy. Or He doesn't - she doesn't meet this nice man and remains alone for the time being - but either way, she delights in the gifts she has been given - whether they lead to a large family, or just a time of service by herself.
Your Church may be given great growth by God, or it may dwindle and age. Either way, all thanks and glory be to God for the gifts of life and salvation He has given you in Christ Jesus. Remain faithful, and if others don't see it - so be it. Remain faithful, remain who you are in Christ Jesus.