This morning my wife and I visited a church we’d never been to before and then went out to breakfast afterwards. As we were eating I looked around the restaurant and commented to my wife that I imagined very few of the people around us had been to church. She agreed and then asked, “why would they? I doubt that any of them feel a real need to go. It’s just not relevant to their lives.”

 

I’m afraid she’s right. It’s not that churches aren’t trying to be relevant because I think they are. But, how can churches be relevant today? What do they need to do in order to be attractive to those people who would otherwise never attend? It seems that most people are really asking, “who needs church? My life is great without it! I’m a good person.” And you know what? They’re right. In so many ways and on so many levels they’re right.

So, how do we make the church relevant to people asking the question, who needs church? 

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… continued from Part 1

Lest you write me off as some sort of disgruntled, out of touch midwesterner who doesn’t understand the unique demands of today and the need for marketing and positioning, I should remind you that my profession is in marketing. I fully understand the need to state your distinctives and your position in the marketplace in order to attract the audience you’re targeting. I know how competitive the marketplace is and how hard you have to work to gain and retain customers. I’m very familiar with marketshare and the challenge to maintain it once you’ve achieved it. My problem is not in understanding these things, my problem is that we seem to have boiled the church down to a set of marketing principles and have just become another consumer product of American society. Was this God’s idea?

What happened to the notion of us going into the world and being Christ to those around us. Aren’t we supposed to be God’s evangelists? How can we evangelize if we’re busy supporting the activities of the 7 day a week church? Who has time for evangelism? Have we converted the church into some sort of holy, “members only” community center so we don’t have to go to the real community center where the “sinners” hang out? Has the church become our hired hands when it comes to evangelism?

There are no easy answers to these and a multitude of other questions. That’s part of what makes it so complicated! Forgive me if I sound angry, I’m not. I’m passionate! My soul hungers for authentic Christian community. Not the cheap, consumer version being replicated across America. I wonder what God thinks about all of this?

Just another stream of consciousness. Thanks for reading!

I was eating lunch with a friend (who had also been a pastor before changing jobs) a few years ago and made the comment that I thought church had become far more complicated than God ever intended when the early church began in the book of Acts. In those early days I doubt believers were too caught up in the whole idea of what we’re going to do next week to keep the momentum going from this week. Or, how do we get those first time guests to come back again? I also doubt they got caught up in the whole competitive thing of trying to out program the church down the street.

So why are we so consumed with our performance as churches? When did we become more concerned with our position in the market place and our unique features as a church rather than celebrating what Christ has done and is doing in our lives? How did our machinery get to be so big and complicated that it has become more of our focus than equipping the people to do the work of ministry?

Thoughts?

…more coming soon!