Monday, October 1, 2007

The Church: Size, or Lack Thereof is Not the Problem

I was reading a blog the other night discussing why there are so many myths about mega-churches. The responses seem to be saying it's jealousy amongst the small church crowd.

I thought the whole discussion was an exercise in futility no matter the real answer.

The problem with church isn't about size. It's about relevance to our "post-post-modern-I-don't-give-a-!@#%-about-church" world. How is it that we seemingly have a church on every corner in this country, but a recent study, according to a friend of mine, shows that within the next X number of years (I don't remember the amount) less than 20% of us will be in church?

The reason? I have found that some in the church try to blame the lost for not wanting to come to church - or when that doesn't work, they claim the old "church people are just sinners saved by grace so don't blame us" argument.

Whatever makes you feel good I suppose. But I am more interested in reality.

The real answer is because we can't seem to show each other enough love to stick together through thick and thin. Instead we split apart and start new congregations right next door to each other, thinking we have the truth while no one else does. The fact is, why would anyone want to join such a group? Most can get that at home. They don't need to travel for dysfunction.

How dare the church pretend to say anything about how the lost world conducts itself! It has NOTHING to say to anyone until it cleans itself up and realizes that there are more important things than what kind of worship music is proper, or who is qualified to serve as deacons or elders or pastors, which convention is the right one to belong to (while at the same time condemning that "evil, nasty, liberal or fundamentalist competing convention"), who we should allow to grace our doorsteps, what color the carpet is or why did the pastor say that? how dare he! or what others wear or don't wear or what version of the Bible is the "right" version... and on and on and on it goes.

We worry about the incidentals when the real problem lies within ourselves. We don't care about the lost. If we did, why are so many churches completely irrelevant? Why can no one give me more than anecdotal evidence of the church actually making a difference in the world? Why, with the thousands upon thousands of churches in our country, we should be a "nation after God's own heart" right?


Why am I even bothering talking about this? I really am not sure. Most who really know me, know I have very little commitment to the local church. Right or wrong, it's where I am at because I fail to see the reason I should be spending time on an institution that doesn't seem to care about anyone but itself. Somewhere deep inside of me, I must care, because if I didn't, I would behave like the lost world who REALLY don't care. They ignore the church. They don't even react to it - unless it's to laugh at the latest headline about what those crazy [fill in your denomination here] are doing.

Really, the only discussion we need to have about the church is what the church needs to do to get back to being relevant to an unbelieving and cynical world.

We could start off with the following:

The most important thing: loving God in the most honest, non-churchy way you can think of. Forget about church (and the color of the carpet) for awhile and focus on loving Him - seeking His will - finding out what church should really look like and how it should act - and your responsibility in it. You'll find that church is actually God's idea, but making it Keeper of the moral standards and crowning it King of our lives was not. If you don't love God, then you are lost

The second most important thing: loving one another despite the fact that you can't stand some of them because they don't believe like you do. Or despite the fact that you think they have too much power in the church. Or despite the fact that they said something that really offended you. Or despite the fact... well, you get the picture.

The third: loving the lost enough to not only take the time to tell them about the real Jesus who loves them right where they're at, but demonstrate it for them in the way you act. Be willing to walk alongside them while they try to figure out what life is all about. Be Jesus with skin on. That's our calling, remember? And it also means we don't condemn them or require them to meet our standards before we allow them into our lives (and our churches) so we can show them what it looks like to walk along the path of the better way.

The question is: Do we, as the local body church in America even know what the better way is anymore?

We sure don't act like it.