Why is it that church people seems to want to park where they are at in their journey with Jesus? Or worse, they want to retreat into the past as seen by the number of stories they tell about ‘the good old days’?
I was recently in a meeting of leaders from one specific church. As we discussed some aspects of the life of the church I suggested that people today are not looking for what is being offered in the majority of churches on an average Sunday morning. That the current generation we are called to reach are simply not relating to the way we are “doing church” and that something needs to change. The message is always the same but the ways in which we share and celebrate that message should be open to change. Methods are not sacred – the message is established but the methods must remain flexible.
Well, we ended up in a decent conversation but I (and the other leader who came with me) were not really heard. The leaders determined that the problem was with the people. They were not hungry enough. They did not love Jesus or love Him enough. They were not engaging in the worship experience being offered. They were too busy with things in the world. They were passive and not willing to be become involved. Then, in defence of their own leadership, they spoke of the anointing on their lives, the things God had done in the past, the one small highlight of the past six months.
Well, when it is all ‘their fault’ and we are not willing to look at the way we are packaging the precious message that we are to share; when it is ‘the others’ who need to change and get serious about Jesus and the church; when we think what we do on a Sunday is biblical and thus ‘sacred’; When we continue to do what we have always done – we will always get what we have always got. Someone once said, “that doing the same thing we have always done expecting different results is simply insanity.” I agree.
Today we live in a world where people can find better worship and better bible preaching on the internet than they will in the local church on a Sunday. And it is available when you want it.
Today we live in a world where we Google our questions, Facebook our friends, find news in a format we prefer and it is instant and live, and we microwave our food. The world has changed. And, we need to learn how to relate to this new reality.
Today we live in a world where people want to dialogue and not just listen to 30+ minutes of a ‘talking head’ no matter how good he or she may be. They want to be able to ask questions and wrestle with answers. They want to exchange ideas with others.
Today we live in a world where “the Bible says…” means nothing because the majority of people today – young and old – no longer see the Bible as their only authority or even as one of many places they go to seek truth.
Today we live in a world dominated by politics, sports, and economics. The center of life, the reference point to life, is no longer the Church or the Bible.
Today we live in a day when the sports bar is ‘attended’ more often than the church building.
Today we live in a time when ‘fellowship’ is found over a cup of Starbucks coffee or over a beer in a local brew pub and not the church.
Today what people think and feel is what they see as truth – and people no longer look to or even consider the Bible to be truth or even contain some truth.
Today we live in a time when people are questioning what 50 years ago was simply considered as truth and never questioned.
Back to the meeting I was in recently – I was blown away when the leaders commented that their church bible studies still used the King James Version. Really!
The world has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid pace. Things are not as they were 50 years ago – or even 5 years ago. Leaders need to understand the culture and society in which they live. They need to relate to the people around them whose lives are so different than they were even a few years ago. As leaders – as believers wanting to fulfil the Great Commission and see people born again – we need to understand how the people around us are living, what they believe, and how they are thinking. Then we can present the gospel – the message that never changes – in a way that it can be understood and received.
To do so we must be open to changing a lot of what we do and how we do it and still hold true to the faith once delivered to the saints.