The other 90%

I think some people are writing me off as a deconstructionist. As if I’m a leftover from a bygone fad when it was hip to rip on the church.

Part of me says, “Call me what you want, who am I to tell people what to think?”

But I think that’s an incorrect label.

My aim is the opposite. I want to be a reconstructionist. I have this crazy, insane belief that the best days for the American church can be in front of us and not behind.

If you need to label me something, label me this: “Passionate about the other 90%.

I will take that to the bank all day, every day.

The simple fact is that I won’t be satisfied with reaching 5-10% of the population with the Good News of Jesus Christ. If that were a grade in school it wouldn’t even be an F… it would be an I.

Incomplete work. I know we can do better. I know I can do better!

I’m unashamedly passionate about that. And I readily admit that I keep company with people who think the same way.

When I run into “satisfied Christians” I kind of wonder what is wrong with them? How can we be so comfortable and happy when we believe what we believe and 90% of the population doesn’t even care?

  • Nearly all Christians believe that a life on earth knowing Jesus will be better than a life lived on earth without Christ.
  • Nearly all Christians believe that when you die you will be judged. Those who know Jesus spend eternity with Christ, those who don’t know Jesus spend eternity separated from Christ.

That drives me to think: What is “wrong” with the “system of church” we practice that leads to reaching only 5-10% of any given community? And what could we change, while holding on to what is dear and true, that would help us (the church, the body, the people of Jesus) reach… 11%. 20%. 25%. 45%. In my lifetime.

It is up to me and you.

When I go down this road, people always say the same thing: “Adam, we don’t have the power to do anything about that.

I reject that idea. Flat out.

You may not be able to change entire systems of power or government or even the momentum of your church.

But you can change you.

And if you can change you and God has called you to lead others. They will change, too.

When I look at reaching 10% of the population I don’t first think, “We need to change everything.” I first think, “What do I need to change about myself?

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

7 comments

  1. Adam I am with you. I say this all of the time and people always come back at me with, “Why are you so concerned about evangelism and not discipleship. You always talk about evangelism and reaching out. Why are you neglecting those within the church?” The honest truth is that I am not neglecting those within the church. Evangelism and reaching out often has a more visible effect than that of discipleship. My question is why is this? I think it’s because believers (more often than not) are not concerned about growing through tough spots and we plateau, then treat the bride of Christ like a religious country club.

    I think that the best days of the American Church could be ahead. I also believe, though, that we are at a watershed moment. We can choose to step up and fulfill the role that Jesus wants us to have in evangelism and discipleship (they go hand in hand) and we see a revival break out across the nation. OR we can choose to be “satisfied” with where we are and watch the Church continue to deteriorate to a point where God may have to allow some persecution to come into America to get a hold of the Church again.

    I have been praying for a few years that we would step up so that God doesn’t have to use persecution to bring us to our knees…but something inside of me says we may not be that far from it either. My heart breaks for the church because it seems like we’d rather focus on the “inadequacies” of our fellow brother and sister rather than coming together to reach people who are lost and disciple them so that they can reach those who are lost and disciple them. So often we forget about making disciples who make disciples so that the cycle can keep going and going and going.

  2. Would love to hear you write more about the ‘satisfied Christian’!!! that is in essence is why there is such a failure in the church (Mine included) We have reduced the gospel hope into a common denominator of reaching a place of satisfaction with our self, our sins, and feeling good ‘enough’ that Jesus loves us. We miss the call to continuation in our faith, our sharing it, in our winning the world over with ushering his kingdom…. If we really want ‘Love to win” 🙂 we need to live as though we have a love and a kingdom worth the world embracing and worshiping its King.

  3. One simple idea could enable us to reach 300% more: Cross-denominational and inter-congregational cooperation.

    Fledgling congregations DO NOT have the resources to reach more, but a conglomerate of congregations — all who love and care for their community — can see real change happen quickly.

    Thanks for preachin’ it, Adam!

  4. @chris- thanks for the comment.

    @matt- In the crazy model churches use, its true that they might not have resources to do more. I tend to think that to do less allows for more ministry to happen. A lot of “resources” get poured into appealing to the 10%.

    I had a whole ‘nother section to this post diving into some theology/history context. I have a feeling you’ll like that.

  5. A response from an Unchurched.

    It is simple—churches fail to offer anything we either need or desire. What does a church provide we cannot find elsewhere? Socialization? We have meet-ups, sports, parties and facebook to supplant such a need. Teaching? We have books, and blogs and videos providing better, more sophisticated and more specialized than any church can offer.

    Assistance? We have professional counselors, government programs, local charities.

    Indeed, the only thing churches have left to offer is corporate membership that, eventually under its own weight, becomes an exclusive “club” whereby the only ones who want to be there are the members themselves. If you’re excluded from the golf club—you don’t play golf. Likewise, if you don’t fit the perceived necessary credentials for membership—you don’t go to church. [And by “membership” I am being more overbroad than official voter status.]

    We don’t need to be reached with the “Good News of Jesus Christ.” Here, in America, we are pelted with it constantly. We have rejected it for a variety of reasons. Offering a fresh coat of paint, “new” program style, or updated sound still leaves the underlying object of our dismissal.

    I’m sorry (I know this is not what you want to hear) but you will always have a limited demographic, because…like every other human endeavor…only a limited demographic is interested.

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