Many of you know that I follow a church in the area I grew up in called Granger Community Church. Their ministry is off the cuff, and radically different than most churches today. Tim Stevens, who is the Executive Pastor of the church posted a blog that sparked some thoughts today.
Many churches today are afraid of a “crowd.” They are afraid that having a crowd may mean people will come to church dressed different than they do, act different than they do, like different music than they do, and may even have a body piercing or a tattoo! Oh my! They are afraid these people will bring the world into the church and their church will never be the same! Thinking that way, they do all they can to avoid every appearance of being “worldly” or doing anything that might have any relevance to culture at all. Because of that, they really never do have to worry about visitors very much. At least they do not have to worry about them making a second visit. Most of their growth (if they are growing) is transfer growth from people that are just like them and are new to the area, or got mad at the preacher of the church (just down the road) they were just in because of some “Biblical” (read: “stupid”, I know, a little sarcastic) reason.
Am I advocating becoming just like the world to reach the world? No. What I am saying is that in order for the church to be the church and to reach people, we have to have the “crowd” so that those who have never given their lives to Christ can have that opportunity. If your Sunday morning congregation is made up of believers only, something is wrong. Someone is not doing their job of reaching out and living a life every day that will give opportunity for others to see Christ, and therefore give a believer an opportunity to invite others to check out the church as they explore God and His Son Jesus Christ. (This is not to say people cannot give their lives to Christ outside of church, of course they can.) Our job as leaders in the church is to motivate and equip people to reach people.
With all that in mind, I think it is good for churches to re-think what they are doing so that they can attract a “crowd” to their services. Once again, I am not talking about compromising and doing whatever it takes to get them in. The end does not justify the means. But I think we can change things up a bit in church to make it more relevant and appealing to those who are exploring God and the church.
I recently heard a preacher say that ministry is “so much harder today than it was years ago.” I know I have only been in ministry for a little over 18 years, but I disagree with that statement. Human nature never changes. Ministry is harder when you do not change. You cannot expect to do the same things you have done for __ (fill in the blank) years to work. The message is the same: Jesus Saves, God loves you. But methods do change. They have to in order for people to be interested. Ministry is also harder when you become lazy and just expect everything to just fall in place. It takes work. It takes studying and being relevant. If you do not do those things, ministry is hard… for you. And once you get in that position, it is easy to criticize others that are seeing better numbers. After all, if anyone is growing, they have to be doing something “worldly.” But you are holding out as the last “fortress of the faith.” You do not want a “crowd.” You want a church!
Funny thing is, Jesus attracted a crowd everywhere he went. Oh, He had His moments with His “church.” But He had huge crowds, and used different methods to meet the needs of people and to be able to preach to them the message that He came to preach. Jesus had crowds, and some in those crowds became followers and members of His church. That is what it is all about!
So, should we want a crowd, or a church? My answer: BOTH