I walked into church my junior year of high school. At this point, I had my license and began going to church alone because I found a lack of satisfaction at my mom’s church. Maybe I am wrong, but I am pretty sure this was the first time I went to church in an “adulting” way and just really had the message hit home. Being a normal teenager, I came to church, sang the songs, and grabbed my phone with the intentions of opening the Bible app and following along. Oh look, my best friend texted me; I must reply. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram look pretty tempting, too. I might as well multi-task. This, shamefully, was me almost every week.
Just as I was about to get into the normal swing of things, my pastor simply said this: 87:13. (Oh, so that’s where you got the title.) His next lines honestly shocked me, and up until last year, I thought that his numbers were a bit over exaggerated. 87 percent of the people who grew up in church or went to church in high school didn’t continue on that path when they reached college. That’s a huge number. I bet you think I am making this up, too. Only 13 percent of the people who attended church prior to college will stick with it into adulthood.
For once, I lost my desire to tune out. Considering I was a year away from college myself, I was glued to the message. I remember thinking to myself “why would people want to do that?” “I would never be like those other people.” After that message, I began to really dive into the message on Sunday mornings. In all honesty, there
were are times that I still can’t make myself focus, (I think way too much) but it did change my perspective on active listening in Church.
As college time approached, I found myself torn between New York City, Alabama, Belmont University, and Carson-Newman University in East Tennessee. CNU was actually my last choice, but I know, looking back, that if I hadn’t attended there, I would have ended up in the 87 percent.
Remember earlier when I said I would never be like those people who stop attended church? Oh yeah, it’s time for that story. Here’s how college works: Class, homework, meetings, organizations, work, sleep (for like three hours), and repeat. This schedule is an understatement sometimes. After a run-run-run busy week, Friday and Saturday are spent on socializing and sleeping. It’s easy to spend Saturday night with friends up until 3 or 4 in the morning. Before we start that busy week again of no sleep, we think to ourselves that we have to get that on Sunday, right? So we skip church and tell ourselves “I’ll go the next time” or “I’ll just watch online” knowing that we have no intentions of doing either.
I spent my first semester of college in this struggle boat. I put it off until the next week and the next week after that and the next one after that. I found no interest in going because the further away I got from it; the harder it was for me to remember how much I needed Jesus and fellowship in my life.
My best friend constantly invited me to church with her, and after probably the twentieth time of being asked, I just gave in and went. And guess what happened next? I loved it. I could have (should have) slapped myself for how long I went without church because I told myself it wasn’t important. I thought that “well, I know I have a relationship with God, so He understands.” Did I really? Did He really? My relationship with Him may have existed, but I was stuck in a no progress zone. Think of that as the equivalent of dating someone but never pursuing them. You do nothing to get to know them, you never spend time with them, and eventually, that relationship doesn’t really exist. That’s kind of how I was treating God. Also, he didn’t understand. Why would he? We are told to constantly pursue Him and seek Him in all things, and here I was doing the opposite.
If you haven’t caught on to the theme of all of my articles, then I will tell you how the next part usually plays out. After learning and realizations, I still have natural stubbornness that takes me on a detour to get to the right road. So, after thoroughly enjoying this Sunday morning of church, I had all intentions of going back the next week. However, by the next Sunday, I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed it and naturally, I again chose sleep. Weeks went on like this, but eventually, God was just like “Listen Demi. Get your lazy self up and go to church.” The morning I decided to go back, I had a simple phrase come to mind: 87:13.
I suddenly remembered junior year of high school when I swore to myself that I wouldn’t turn into that 87 percent. Yet, here I was. This way of life that I thought was ridiculous had become my life. I felt so ashamed and couldn’t believe I had let myself get this far. After this, I thought of that phrase every Saturday night when I contemplated skipping. I fell in love all over again with God and His word and His way.
Recently, I asked a couple of friends to go to church with me and they laughed. They literally laughed. What’s so funny about that? Their reasoning was that they didn’t want to get up that early. They didn’t want to be up and ready by 10:30 am.
87:13 is real. It’s easier said than done. It’s taken the best of me, the best of my friends, and maybe the best of you. Don’t be part of the 87 percent. Be part of the thirteen. Let’s make that a larger number. Maybe thirty, or fifty, or maybe, if we are really lucky, 90-100.
Also, don’t just show up on Sunday mornings to fulfill your to-do list. Replying to your texts and liking Instagram pictures isn’t going to get the message across to you that God has prepared someone else’s heart to teach you. Don’t just sit there and take notes while your mind is elsewhere. Actively listen. Actively participate. Actively show up. Actively pursue your relationship with God.
Be the thirteen.