There is a bit of an epidemic in today’s church that, on the surface, looks to be squarely the fault of the “everyday believer”. What’s the problem? Lack of interest and participation in the more “higher level” programs and activities taking place within the church. The Purpose Driven Church model would say that people are having trouble rounding first and heading to second base. Missional-minded folks would say that believers have become merely consumers instead of producers.
What they’re really all saying is that it’s extremely hard to get people to show up to community groups, actively serve, and grow in any meaningful way outside of the Sunday gathering. Typical believers show up for an hour a week to get their fix and head off to their other lives with little more than an afterthought of the two worlds colliding. The reaction from churches is to make more prominent their need for volunteers, offer more service projects, and dumb down the “requirements” to lead a group/teach a class/run Sunday School. They broadcast the message from the pulpit that those in the pews should more actively “be the church”, “get out and do something”, and “stop being consumers”, all the while striving to make a dent in the spiritual development of each attender in the 30 short minutes they have to communicate with them.
The only real development from this entire mess is that the church leadership grows continually disheartened by the seeming lack of interest and passion from its attendees, the believers grow disgruntled at constantly being berated while not feeling like there is an adequate alternative, and the entire entity that is the church continues to grind to a near halt. Yes, there will always be glimpses of hope, pockets of growth, and outliers who just “get it”. Unfortunately though, in large part, the reason churches are so desperate to grow is not so much that they are able to better impact their city, but in the hope that they might able to finally begin to impact their city.
What if there was a better way? What if the solution was right under our noses? What if, God forbid, we actually looked to the scripture to find our mandates rather than seeking popular business models for our answers? What if the simple answer was that the more we get bigger, the more we should be getting smaller?
In the coming weeks, I will unpack the 4 biggest problems that I feel contributes to the situation. But first, what do you say? Have you noticed this in today’s churches? Let’s flesh out some concepts together and see if we can’t make some headway together. Leave a comment below.