Unconverted Membership

“Our greatest trouble now is, it seems to me, a vast unconverted membership. A very large percent of the church members among us seem to have very poor conceptions of what a Christian ought to be. They neglect prayer, the reading of the Bible, and the Lord’s Day meetings, and, of course, they fail to do good day by day as they should. Twelve years of continual travel among the churches have forced me to the sad conclusion that a very small number of the nominal Christians are worthy of the name.” ~James A. Harding, 1887

Is it comforting or disturbing?

When you read the stories of Israel in our ancient Scriptures and recognize that we, today, continue to fall away from the Lord, cry out to him in time of trouble, come running back to him vowing a renewed life of total commitment, only to fall away again a short time later, how do you feel? Does it make you feel better that some things never change, that God’s people have always acted like this and always will? Does it ease the pain of our own shortcomings and rebellions to know that God’s used to it? Or does it really bother you? You mean we’re still acting as God’s people the same way we acted four thousand years ago?!? Are you kidding? How depressing. What are we doing? Are we ever going to get it?

Over and over again. Nothing changes.

When you read a statement made by Harding 120 years ago that sounds like it could have been written yesterday, is that good or bad? Does it comfort you or disturb you?

I go back and forth on things like this. It mostly depends on what kind of day I’m having. My mood changes. My outlook on Christian progress, the advance of the Kingdom in this country, the sanctification of God’s holy people, it changes from time to time based on recent experience, I suppose.

This I know: through all the ups and downs of the cycles of God’s eternal people, he loves us. He loves us unconditionally. He sacrifices all and gives it to us. Uncompromisingly. He is a faithful God. Even when his people are faithless. He is patient with us. And he’s working on us right now.




  1. Caleb (Chris Courtney's son)

    I always love a James A. Harding quote. One of our most overlooked founding fathers if you will. He quit smoking when he had no money to buy a poor girl some shoes because he had just bought some smokes. He would leave on speaking trips without enough money for the return trip. What an awesome example of faith.

  2. John

    His statement seems as current as it can be for today, and I understand your waffling,is it we haven’t gotten much worse, or more troubling we haven’t gotten any better.

    With the acceptance of this culture as “ours” by so many of our adults and teens is it any wonder we have issues? We need to get real and reject this as our culture, I am not a citizen of this world. Why would I want to measure my moral position based on what is OK now? Look around you we are sitting in a pot peeling carrots with an ever rising temperature, if we don’t begin to reject this world we are bound to be dinner for this fallen world.

  3. Allan

    Wow. Amen. Yes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For spam filtering purposes, please copy the number 2025 to the field below: