Tuesday, January 15, 2013

bandaids....or transformation?

Adam and I went to a friend's church for her baptism on Sunday, and it got me thinking about a lot of things as they relate to our church and some of the pains we been experiencing over the last several years.  Lots of churches emphasize GROW GROW GROW, and there's a lot to be said for a vibrant community of believers. What I really want to know, though, is the WHY.

I don't want to be a church who simply jumps on every trend only to change when the bandwagon makes a turn, but nor do I want to be a church who refuses to change on the grounds that "we can't accommodate everyone" (which is usually code for, "it's comfortable this way").

Well, OF COURSE we can't accommodate everyone's preferences, nor should we compromise our essential beliefs, but if we stay on our current course, those churches which refuse to adjust (or, indeed, refuse to make changes ahead of the curve) will cease to exist.

I'm loving Brian McLaren's Reinventing Your Church; can you tell?

So here are some of the questions I have for my church, in particular, but all churches, in general:

1. Why do we want to grow in the first place?  A related question is, what do we believe the purpose of growth to be?  Is it to spread the Gospel or is it to expand our social network?  Is it to go out into the "dangerous" places or to create a secluded "safe" place for ourselves?  Or both?  Or neither?

2. In our attempt at growing, who are we trying to attract? (a) already-practicing Christians (which may mean, essentially, enticing them away from other churches, which seems counter-productive), (b) nominal Christians who are seeking more depth in their relationships with Christ and who might not be attending a church currently, or (c) unchurched folks and/or non-Christians?  Or maybe some combination of these three?  Or maybe other groups I haven't considered yet?

3. Once we figure out WHY we're doing what we're doing and WHO we're reaching for, HOW do we best redesign/streamline our structures (administrative, worship options/style(s), financial, missional, social, etc.) to best address the needs of those we're trying to serve?

4. What are we (individually and corporately) willing to give up for the purpose of meeting our common goal, whatever we determine it to be?  Are we willing to sacrifice our pet projects, our emotional attachments to programs (or even furniture!), our preferences for worship style, etc.?  How can we go about doing some cost/benefit analysis?

5. Are we actually willing to step out for Jesus Christ?  Are we willing to tolerate (or, my goodness, even invite and embrace!) the occasional person raising her hands during worship?  Are we willing to "suffer the little children to come unto" Jesus rather than being annoyed because they're too loud?  Are we willing to constantly ask ourselves whether what we're doing at any given time embodies our call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, etc.?  Are we willing to thoroughly examine our theological "hobby horses" with new eyes?  Are we willing to give others the space to experience God differently than we do, and to affirm them rather than criticize?

Is anyone with me on this??
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