The church is decreasing in America while our population continues to expand. One major factor contributing to this decline is how Christians think about themselves and their community of faith in the greater community in which they interact. This “self-talk” internally acts as a mental inhibition towards the innovation and creativity we need to reach lost people with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Here’s some examples of inhibitions:
- There’s nothing new under the sun. Really? I hear this dismissive tone nearly every time a new idea is floated. While there are certainly many, many who just redress the same pig and expect a different award at the fair– there are also tons of brand new ideas out there. In fact, the rate at which new information about our world is gathered, disseminated, and implemented continues to accelerate. There are actually new things discovered under the sun every second of every day.
- People aren’t interested in Jesus. To the contrary every study reveals a wide gap between those claiming Christ and those actively involved in fellowship with other believers. While the gap changes based on the studies you read, let’s ballpark it at 20% of the United States population. That’s 61.4 million people in America who are walking around identifying themselves with Christ but are disconnected from the Christian community. When Jesus said the fields are white for the harvest he wasn’t kidding. Literally, 1:5 people you will meet today already call themselves a Christian but just need to get connected. (John 4:35)
- I am not an evangelist. Good! People desperately need community. And people with microphones selling Jesus scare almost everyone. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is the best evangelist ever. Your job isn’t to tell every person about Jesus and ask them to receive Christ. Jesus said the two most important things you can do are to love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:33-35) Anyone can do that, right?
- I’m not a pastor. Cool, neither was Jesus. He was a carpenter and a lay teacher– A blue collar regular guy like you or I who went to work every day. He didn’t have a church to invite people to. If the last 50 years of church decline have taught us anything it’s that the “If you build it, they will come” strategy can’t reach an additional 20% of a growing population. We can’t build fast enough.
- People don’t want to come to church with me. Who said they need to go to church? Giving your heart to Jesus and finding community with other believers doesn’t mean people have to join a church. You can form a community of believers who hate church right in your house. Who knows? As they discover that you aren’t a tool, maybe they’ll want to be a part of church later? And maybe that group of church haters in your house will grow… and become a church?