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Church…Just Like You Like It!
Church

Church…Just Like You Like It!

Posted by Regi Campbell on December 5, 2013

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.

Responses (10)

Bill Rawlins
Bill Rawlins Posted: December 5, 2013, 5:19 pm

Reggie – I enjoy your columns.
A comment about men in 40’s, 50’s, 60’s leaving churches:
They simply aren’t wanted except for their tithes. The churches are looking for the young men to lead the next generation. Not a bad thing in itself. But, the older men have a lot to offer from life experience and mentoring (like your Radical Mentoring). How many churches have programs like yours? Unfortunately, not many.


'JT' Jim Tatem
'JT' Jim Tatem Posted: December 5, 2013, 8:38 pm

Regi,
I’ve been finding that using technology actually helps me in my preparation for the time I spend at church. I hold Bible study on Sunday morning and often find my best research is done online through studylight.org, Bible Gateway, and by watching many of the best messages available online.

I use that as a way to help educate me before I do a message. Also from time to time your blog posts, as well as other videos or information I find online I’ll pass along to the guys in my IronMen mentoring group. We started with two groups of six guys last year and this year we are up to seven groups. We see this as a way to create missional communities using people already in the church to connect with those who are unchurched.

I completely agree that “the church” is not going away. It may change. And the way we go about holding church may change. But ultimately Christ’s bride continues to grow until He returns. And we should all play a part in making sure that growth continues to happen. The only way to do that is to stay connected to people and engaged with people in real time, in person, in their lives.


Len Hill
Len Hill Posted: December 5, 2013, 9:10 pm

Regi,
I have seen both situations where one church is dying another is growing. I think largely in part to the fact that some of those just will not change to meet the needs of the unbeliever. In those cases the people I talk to are saying the Church is dying, so I can sit at home and hear a good sermon, listen to music that I like and find a charity to help others. I certainly have my preferences but have learned that for a couple of hours each week I can put them aside to reach the lost. I am apart of a growing church that is approaching the need to build new facilities to meet the growing number of people entering our doors each week. I teach a children’s class and like the previous responder, I too will use online resources to research new ways to teach an old lesson. I think we are growing for several reasons we support some of the same missions you mentioned in your article but we also try to reach out to the local community with meals to the homeless, mentoring programs to the fatherless, job searches, etc. We are intentional in our ministry to try and encourage new people to get involved in small groups and to join a ministry team that they are passionate about. I think the family atmosphere is a large part of the reason people get involved and stay. I would encourage a congregation that is shrinking to consider a self evaluation. Are you like Christ denying self to reach the lost, or are you defending your right to worship in a way that is only beneficial to yourself? The Apostle Paul wrote I have become all things to all people in the hopes that I might reach some.


jackie c.
jackie c. Posted: December 5, 2013, 10:42 pm

Just went through a period of ambivalence about my church for all the reasons listed in today’s post. Ultimately, seeking God’s will in His Word reminded me that His desire is for us to be in community with fellow believers and to love Christ’s bride as He loves her.

A simple act of obedience–loving Christ’s bride–led to a shift in my perspective. Having served in church ministry for years, it was very hard to admit that I’d come to expect that my church must also serve me. As for relationships within the church, I also had to admit that I’d become lazy, apathetic and distracted.

Though still a work in progress, I am finding more and more reasons to celebrate church, and on a new and exciting level, recognizing more and more opportunities to “be” the church God intends. And, as much as I still love to learn from the likes of Paul Washer, David Platt and John Piper via technology, they have now taken their proper place as some wonderfully sweet icing on a very rich and fulfilling cake that is my home church.

In December 3rd’s devotion from “Morning & Evening,” Charles Spurgeon eloquently writes, “Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him and grieves His Holy Spirit, but He does not allow her faults to affect His love.” So, how can I do any less when God does exactly the same for me?

As always, your words are timely and inspiring Regi.


Doug Terpening
Doug Terpening Posted: December 5, 2013, 11:05 pm

Regi,

Love your focus that the church is to be a place to “belong”. There is an incredible opportunity in this current times to be a place that people are safe to belong.

How is the key question? How do we get to 1:1 ratio in the church?

Love your focus on how to be relationally connected.

Doug Terpening


Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell Posted: December 8, 2013, 12:13 pm

The younger you are, the easier it is to ‘belong’ at church. When you’re really young, you’re put in a group and told “this is where you belong”. As you get older and get to make choices, it gets harder, but children are the lynchpin, connecting us with other parents involvement in teaching or childcare. Graduate all the kids, the ‘requirements’ go away and it’s all volunteer. And that’s where it gets tough. Being at church has to compete with being at the lake or playing golf or eating out. Selfishly, it becomes an investment we have to make with an uncertain ‘return’.


Doug Terpening
Doug Terpening Posted: December 9, 2013, 10:55 pm

Regi,

Agree. Your last sentence “It becomes an investment we have to make with an uncertain ‘return'”, is spot on how we think about belonging to one another.

My experience is that the uncertain return of meaningful belonging is the best return of any investment. It isn’t immediate and it isn’t certain. It can end in pain. The major don’t end in pain, but in double return.

The key for me is investing without expecting. Sort of live Love One another means loving without expecting.

Keep up the great work.

Doug


Jon Stallings
Jon Stallings Posted: December 6, 2013, 4:41 pm

Regi, there are a couple of issues. One is that we have set a high standard for our churches. We want them to be perfect. We forget that they are led and attended by imperfect people. I am a Pastor and I assure you I am imperfect as they come.

Another major issue that you alluded too is that we make church all about “me.” Does the church meet “my needs.” We forget that we are called to die to ourselves and worship a Holy God.

Finally, I love technology and I think it is a wonderful tool to enhance our growth as Christians. But it can easily become something to hide behind to avoid the transparency that is required to live in true community.


Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell Posted: December 8, 2013, 12:08 pm

Absolutely agree


Thomas Huckstep
Thomas Huckstep Posted: January 6, 2014, 11:21 pm

I find I’m more committed than ever to my local church because of the exposure to the vast resources coming at me every day. I have an uncompromising Christian worldview that has only grown deeper in the past three or so years during which I’ve availed myself to the teaching of thought leaders and gifted theologians. Consumption of such resources does, however, demand careful discernment and “fact checking” against Scripture. The benefit is I get to dig even deeper into the Christian life!


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