I love my church. I love the church. Yet there’s times when I honestly feel like church culture is kinda putting our spiritual brakes on.
I guess I’d call it ritualization and routine. In our effort to be organized and professional, somehow we’ve lost touch with our grassroots mission – you know, the Great Commission. Has our organized church culture substituted the process for the product?
Let me offer some examples of how our well intended church culture, it not held in check, can be a hindrance to our spiritual growth.
When a visitor shows up at church, I sometimes wonder what we’re doing. We pounce upon them with a smile and handshake, introduce ourselves, and then … start the process. You know – the “packet”
- please fill out this form (press hard, you’re making 3 copies)
- here’s our bulletin, order of service, etc
- here’s a map of our facilites
- here’s our quarterly booklet of bible study lessons
- here’s a free pen (call the number to get a recording of when we hold services)
- here’s our visitor badge
- here’s a tract on how to become a Christian (headquarters published this 20 years ago and we’ve rubber stamped the back of it)
Different churches have various “intake” processes, but here’s my point:
Why are we shoving “information” down their throat? I thought we were supposed to be building relationships. Somehow, this seems more procedural than authentic and lacking in any sense of spiritual outreach.
I know it’s all well intended, but I submit to you that they didn’t stumble into church because their car broke down in the parking lot. I sincerely believe they are looking for something – and I know what it is!
They are looking for love.
I further submit that if they don’t find it at church, they will continue their search at the country club, bar – anywhere – until they find it. Let’s start seeing visitors as more than a prospect to increase our attendance (and therefore giving). Let’s come alongside them and show them Christian love.
Another area of stumble in church culture is “assimilation” – you know, getting new members involved. I guess the theory is that if we put them to work, this will give them an affirmation of responsibility – thus a sense of obligation so they won’t quit coming to church! This takes many forms.
- join the choir
- work the sound system
- be a greeter
- be an usher
- work in the nursery
Personally, I think these positions of service should be earned – just saying. Again, well intended, but I think we’ve got so many, doing so much, that it takes away from the opportunity for discipleship. It seems like legions in the church are very busy serving. It’s no wonder some of them get burned out. By the way, with so many chefs in the kitchen, who’s left to be served?
I know some of this seems absurd. I have used satire and hyperbole to make a point. I don’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t have an organized way of welcoming visitors. But I am reminded of when Jesus said that He came, not to oppose the law, but to fulfill it! In that same spirit, I urge us all to come alongside newcomers in our church in an authentic way that reaches out to them spiritually. I kinda say it this way in a tweet:
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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