So many of my friends are dis-satisfied with churches.
This is the thought that came to mind on my way to the office this morning. I tried to ignore it and mark it up to my leanings toward cynicism. But I started naming off my friends in my head and realized that so many of them really are dis-satisfied, dis-engaged and have chosen to dis-connect from a “local church”.
They’re in a season of de-tox. I guess they would be described as de-churched.
Many of these friends live in Charlotte where there is a new church in every theater and school. There is a baptist church on every corner. The shortage of churches isn’t the problem.
I’ve often heard that more churches is the answer. I hear statistics thrown around to justify another new church. “There are 1,000,000,000 people in this area…there can never be enough churches.”
So, church after church goes up. And my friends try them. They attend for a few months. They try a small group. They serve. And then they leave…dis-satisfied.
Why is this?
Here’s my thought…a few years ago when the church planting boom was in full force I saw a problem. They wanted to be different then the old, traditional, hymn singing, piano playing, pot luck eating, Sunday school attending church. So, they scrapped all those things. They re-decorated the church.
I watched as this took place. The outside looked completely different. New music. Loud bands. Stylish preachers. Cool venues. Coffee. Donutes and bagels. Small Groups. It looked great!
But here’s the problem…I’m not sure the inside changed. In fact I think when the new church threw out the bath water they might have thrown out the baby with it.
Not Jesus. Not the Gospel. Not God.
Here’s why my friends are dis-satisfied.
A lack of community.
They go to a great worship service on Sunday, maybe even a small group on Tuesday night. But these two things do not mean you have community. Community happens when a group of people do life together.
This is what the little white church on the hill got right. They did life together!
Sure they only had 75 people at church, the piano was out of tune, the worship leader wouldn’t make it in Nashville and the preacher was a little boring. But, they did life together. There was community. All the time. Every where. And this is what my friends desire. This is what my friends miss. This is what the church was intended to be.
I’ve been wrestling with a passage of Scripture in Luke 10 for the past month. Here’s what it says ::
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
I’ve always thought that the apostles in the book of Acts were the first church planters. But then I read Luke 10 and realized these 72 men and women were the first church planters.
And how did they plant a church?
A worship service?
A new small group plan?
A cool pastor?
A worship leader?
A fun children’s ministry?
No. Luke 10v7 was Jesus’ philosophy of ministry…his church planting blue print…the foundation for a healthy church.
“Stay in that house, eating and drinking…”
That’s community! Be in one another’s homes. Do life with one another. Eat together. Drink together. Party together. Mourn together. Laugh together. Celebrate together. Do the mundane together. Study together. Worship together.
This is why my friends are dis-satisfied. The church has great worship. Great preaching. Great environments. But most of the time the church lacks community. And this is what we are created for. We were created for relationship. We were created to rub elbows with one another. We were created to do life with one another.
Here’s the deal…here’s what my friends and I would like to tell the church of today.
We don’t care how many people come to your church. We don’t care if you have the best musicians money can buy. We don’t care if you, the preacher, is “on” every Sunday. We don’t care about your fancy designs.
We want community. We want to see that community is the most important thing you do. We want to see the staff and leaders of the church lead by example by living in community with the other people of the church.
I pray that we, the Church, can begin re-creating Jesus’ church planting model. Let’s re-create what Jesus had in mind. If that means we have to scrap some things…then scrap them. Because in Jesus’ book…all the flash and glamour is meaningless compared to His people loving one another and learning how to live with one another.
Let’s be the Church.
A holy and chosen PEOPLE! Son’s and daughter’s of our loving Father. The family of God. A people dearly loved so that we might love.
Let’s be a community!