So, it’s been awhile. Be the Church has been sitting silently for a couple years. Due to some personal issues, it just hasn’t gotten the attention we intended and I apologize to those who have been waiting to see what we were going to be up to.
2017 is now upon us… seemingly snuck up from behind. We aren’t getting any younger, and the church as a whole is still dying. So, what can we do about it? I follow several church leadership blogs which echo our sentiments and find comfort in those but wonder if any of it really does any good. Even within groups of believers there is so much division.
We are constantly bombarded by society telling us our beliefs are stupid or ignorant. Our children aren’t allowed to hear about God at all in public anymore, and if they do it’s about how there isn’t one. Any dispute of this is met with harsh skepticism or ridicule. High Schoolers courageous enough to attend a church youth group regularly get blank stares and confused looks from their unbelieving friends. “You’re doing what on Wednesday? Why?” Sure this could open up a dialog and invitation, but they are afraid. Society is conditioning them to be cautious about sharing their faith.
It’s no wonder we see what we are seeing. Church on Sunday mornings becomes just another thing to do. Another thing on the calendar. It no longer serves it’s purpose of allowing people to come together and meet the Living Jesus, and to form a relationship with him. Is it possible to bring new believers to Christ in a world that sees church as an unnecessary distraction? I believe it is, but things have to change.
I recognize and celebrate that there are exceptions out there, but by and large, the way the church in America is functioning presently is how it was doing things 250 years ago. This includes everything from worship style, music, how snacks are served, and administrative functions. People of this world are of a much different mindset than they were in 1767. While there are arguments that church must keep doing what it’s doing because it’s sacred and important, I argue that as whole, it’s not working anymore. People are just going through the motions and God spits that lukewarm sentiment from His mouth. The average person from the street that might timidly come through your doors out of curiosity about this God thing will inevitably leave more confused, and with just as many friends as they walked in with.
What shouldn’t change?
- Being centered on Christ. If this is not the focus, nothing else matters.
- Core values. If your church has core values in place, and these values are Biblically sound, you should keep these and not let anything contradict them. If you don’t currently have core values or an overarching mission/vision, this should be the first step before any other changes as everything you do should be based around the core vision.
- Loving God and loving people (Luke 10:27). Above all, without these, nothing else will work. If your congregation struggles to show love to others, this must be addressed, as this is why we are here.
- Mission-focused serving opportunities. If you have ministries serving the community, and it fits with the stated mission of the church, then by all means keep them running if they are reaching people.
Without those, a church will likely see decline.
What should change?
There are a number of areas that you can specifically look to improve your own congregations:
- Worship flow & planning
- Leadership structure
- Facility upkeep
- Community Outreach
- Serving opportunities that are not mission-focused
Perhaps you noticed something there… Hospitality is really more important than all the rest, and it involves loving the people that come through your doors. This includes the ones you don’t know.
Community Outreach is also very important to show that you’re doing good in the world. People will see this and be drawn to it. If the only thing on your calendar is Sunday Worship and a couple meetings you might want to look into this.
I plan to do a series on branding soon, which is a very misunderstood topic when it comes to the church. As a preface to that, you should know that your church already has a brand in your community, whether good or bad, and whether you planned it or not. It’s up to you to ensure that your brand is recognizable, positive and remembered. If the community has a bad taste for your brand, then it’s time to find out why and change it.
That’s all for now. Hoping to be in touch again soon.