Churches don’t reach people… People do.
Maybe that’s a statement of the obvious for you. But if you read enough church blogs or look at enough books or listen to a bunch of pep talks you may begin to believe the lie that churches, their leaders, and their programs reach a lot of people.
Less than 5% of our culture is actively involved in church. That’s a lot of smoke and not much fire.
Neighbors loving neighbors reaches people. Which involves talking and getting to know people who live next door to you. Which involves you being home and not hiding in your house.
Here’s a little secret I learned from working on church staff.
It feels good to keep people busy.
It makes you think you’re being productive. It makes you think that they are keeping your ministry a priority. You look really good with lots of things going on and people running around like busy little bees.
Having a lot of people involved in your programs is a powerful temptation as a church staff member. The bottom line is that you feel like its your job to grow a program. Heck, there’s a good chance it IS your job to grow a program.
But if you step back for a minute and think about it– For every moment you are keeping a person at the church “doing ministry” you are actually preventing them from doing the one thing we know works. And the one thing every believer, including your pastor, is called to do universally.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
A lot of church involvement is actually counter intuitive to your church actually reaching a community.
It might feel good to keep people busy. But in the end it is killing your ability to grow the church.
For Kristen and I it took stepping out of a busy bee church and into a situation where we could simply say no to everything but church attendance to have this truth awakened in us.
Believing in the “churches reach people” paradigm is really just an excuse for me to not reach out in love to those in my neighborhood. I might feel pretty good about keeping busy in the church. But my life ends up with a lot of smoke and not much fire.
We try to do the bear minimum and I still feel like we are over involved. We have church on Sunday. Community group on Monday night. And youth group on Tuesday night. (I’d skip church and youth group over community group, by the way. Community group is our lifeline.)
And it still feels like too much.
What if community service became the program of the church? What if you had a simple service on Sunday morning and then sent the people of the church out to apply what they’ve learned in their life?
What if the role of the staff is to go out with the people of your congregation and work alongside? Not as a program overlord, but as an encourager and equipper.
Wouldn’t that be a biblical expression of church?
Or have we bought so firmly into the current paradigm that we don’t think simple expressions of faith in action will work anymore?