What are people looking for in a church?
Pastors ask this question regularly – and we should. But too often, I think we miss the mark entirely.
For instance, not long ago I was part of a discussion with a group of ministers sharing new ideas. I enjoy the innovative, forward focus of such talks.
Then something odd occurred to me. If you took the religious language out of our conversation, I wondered if you’d be able to tell whether we were a group of ministers talking about church, or a local theater group talking about the upcoming show season.
Much of our discussion focused on issues like stage lighting, how much video or drama to use, the quality and volume of the music, advertising, signage, seating, transitions between segments of the service, etc.
The other voices faded into the background for me, as I realized something about myself.
I’ve spent decades tweaking lights, buying audio equipment, setting up chairs and all the other work it takes to put on church services. But, as much as I love the body of Christ…
You’ll Know Them By Their Video Clips
Does anyone think the reason our neighbors aren’t going to church is poor stage lighting and sloppy transitions? Or are they looking for something else entirely?
It’s not that the staging elements of church don’t matter. We still talk about them at our church staff meetings, too. If they’re done poorly, they can distract from the message. We just need to be sure they don’t replace the message.
But let’s face the truth. It doesn’t matter how big our churches are, how much money we have, or how many A-List producers become believers. If we compete head-to-head with Hollywood on entertainment quality, the results are already in.
The church loses.
Not only can’t we compete with the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the local theater, we can’t compete with what people have on the phone in their pocket. The highest quality entertainment in the world is literally at our fingertips, 24/7.
My neighbor isn’t going to be blown away by the entertainment quality of our church’s Easter pageant.
The Church Has No Competition
So the bad news is, the church can’t compete with Hollywood. Or Disneyland. Or the moral decline of our society. Or our own smart phones and iPads.
But the good news is, we don’t need to compete with any of those things. Because the church has no competition.
The church needs to do what only the church can do.
Jesus said the world would come to know we’re his disciples, not because we build bigger buildings, or when Christian companies start making higher quality movies. Jesus said people would know we’re his followers because we love one another.
There’s a growing concern that the church needs to do a better job than we’ve been doing, or we’ll lose the next generation. The good news is that this has been the concern of every generation, yet the church continues to live and thrive.
The bad news is we will lose this generation and the next one (at least) unless we do one thing. Stop competing with Hollywood (and with other churches) and start doing the Jesus stuff better.
What if, instead of obsessing over a better Sunday morning show, we got the “love one another” parts right?
What if we decided we were going to
- love God
- love others
- teach the Word
- live our convictions
and do that really well.
Has the world ever seen a truly united church, loving God, loving each other and loving our community?
What if they did?
We’d truly have no competition.
So what do you think? Have we had our priorities where they should be? Or have we been emphasizing the wrong things, sometimes?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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