Please forgive this departure from the hope-inspiring content you normally find on Average Us. I care about the Church, God’s Church, your church. But our churches have a problem, and I wonder what we can do about it…
Your church is irrelevant.
Though you may love it, with few exceptions, your community no longer needs your church to fill any significant cultural, social, educational or charitable role. Those days are long over.
If your church closed up today, who would care other than the members? What negative impact would befall your city? Think about that for a while and see if it reflects reality where you live and worship.
❯ BAD TO WORSE
That sounds pretty bad, right? But, here’s something I think is even worse:
Your church has a credibility problem, too.
Why?—because the people who drive by your church also see another church right across the street, and another down the road, and another across town, and one in a big building, and one in old gas station, and another on TV.
And the people who see all these churches know this about you and your church:
You don’t know anyone in the other churches. You have different “religions” and who’s to say who’s right? And the only important difference between the big building church and the gas station church is the personal charisma of the preacher and the amount of money he or she can raise. Whatever goes on behind those doors on Sunday is irrelevant, and whatever they have to say to the community lacks credibility because they all say something different.
❯ MEA CULPA
All of this is true of me and my church, too. In fact, whenever I drive to church my stomach turns a little because there is literally another church directly across the street. But, I’m pretty sure both congregations believe in one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. (See Ephesians 4:4-6.)
I can’t be the only Christian this bothers…
It makes me sad and ashamed. I don’t know what to do about it except to see if others agree that this is simply unacceptable. But the ultimate relevance and credibility of the gospel of Jesus demands that we not be content to allow our churches to become irrelevant and incredible.
But, what can we do?
❯ AN IMPOSSIBLE SOLUTION
How about we close half of our churches?
There are only three legitimate reasons to separate one congregation from another: geographic distance, population density and language difference. Every other reason is caused by our sinfulness, and is cause for repentance.
Let’s give half the buildings and lands away. Let’s shrink our financial obligations. Let’s combine our congregations and denominations. Let’s erase some philosophical barriers and tear down some walls. Let’s abandon whatever traditions and doctrines deserve to be abandoned. Let’s combine our efforts to serve in Jesus’ name, and to teach Jesus’ gospel where it isn’t heard.
Impossible. I know.
But then, what?
I don’t have a better answer. Do you?
What could make our churches more relevant and credible?
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