Every Christian I’ve met has a paradigm of ‘church’. If they could wave a magic wand, their church would be a certain size, provide a certain kind of music and worship style, hire the perfect preacher, offer exactly the right programs, be there in a crisis with just the right touch and make them feel like they belong without making them feel guilty or obligated. There would never be talk of money. Never be a ‘capital campaign’. And it would be wonderfully compassionate to the ‘least of these’ locally, nationally, and internationally.
Problem is…there ain’t no such church. Maybe there never will be.
We’re walking away from the church in droves, especially men in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. If we want great preaching and teaching, we spin up the preachers we like on our ipads anytime we want wherever we are. Worship? A couple of clicks and we’re singing praises with the best worship leaders and musicians, not just in the country, but in the world. Bible study? Search YouTube and there’s Beth Moore, Matt Chandler….Bible teaching like nobody else. Charity and ministry to the poor? Take your pick…..World Vision, Compassion International, Salvation Army, Feed the Hungry. A couple of effortless clicks and we’ve picked kids to support, relieved human suffering, helped the poor and assuaged our guilt. Without ever leaving the couch.
Hey look….I’ve done all these things. I’m not throwing rocks. I’m just realizing the things we used to get from the local church, we’re getting from other people and other places through technology. We’re voting for churches, ministers and charities with our eyes, debit cards and mouse clicks while voting against local churches with our feet. By not engaging. Not going. Not giving. Ultimately, not caring.
The ‘secret sauce’ of the local church has always been ‘belonging’. It was where we knew people and people knew us. But with affluence and mobility and grandchildren and technology, it’s ignorance and apathy… we don’t know people at church anymore and we don’t care. We’re off to the lake or the beach or the mountains or anywhere other than Sunday school or small group.
Scripture describes the church as “the bride of Christ”. I believe it’s God’s chosen vehicle for the ages. It will never die. Never go away. It’s embodiment, methodologies, and personalities will change, but the church is here to stay.
What if we spent some time thinking about what we want and need from church, but also what we can offer to church? What if we committed to a 1:1 ratio….for every one thing I want from church, I’ll offer up one thing to church. One of the “things” I give to my church is voluntarily mentoring younger men to live God-centric lives and become future church leaders.
I’m all for technology’s ability to bring some of the best elements of church right into our lives. But don’t slip into “either/or” and disconnect. Choose “both/and” and stay connected to your local church. That ‘belonging’ thing is bigger than you think.
Question: With the onslaught of technology and easy access to great preaching, teaching, worship, Bible Study and charity opportunities, are you more committed or less committed to your local church? Tell us here.