12 March 2010

Church Growth?

A short post, open to your projections and comments. :-)

Once upon a time, the general culture was amenable to church-going for a lot of reasons that didn't have anything to do with God or to a commitment to being a disciple.

Now, the general culture is less amenable to church-going.

Instead of focusing on trying to get people into the door, churches should focus even more on faithful worship, faithful teaching and committed discipleship. If this results in declining church membership, so be it.

Whatever the format is of the above commitments, I don't care. I expect that different formats will appeal to different disciples and I think that's fine. Just let's stop trying to make ourselves attractive to people who are not primarily interested in worshiping or learning about God. All we're doing is watering down the Gospel.



Beccabumps said...

That's definately the route i'd take...but being married to a more pastoral husband, who happens to be the minister, means i'm forced to see the other side. Are we not also called, in our being the family of God, to meet the needs of the 'social Christian' who comes on a Sunday to be with other people and ease their loneliness? This might mean that passionate worship, discipleship, faith development need to happen at other times and in other ways, or in tandem with the memorial service for those who need a post-war, victorian style of worship. It might be helpful to identify the purpose that sunday mornings are fulfilling...and what people's expectations are - how do we know we are being effective in fulfilling that purpos?

We've just started a housegroup in order to fulfill the faith development aspect of this...and on Sunday we're having a more contemporary session of worship for 30 minutes before the usual service time. Compromise? Maybe...but more needs are being filled and people feel loved and looked after (hopefully!).

Anonymous said...

Preach it sister!

PamBG said...

Lots of good questions, Becca, and yes I think that we are called to meet the needs of the 'social Christian' who comes on Sunday to be with other people.

I don't think that I want church to be only for passionate zealots.

I just don't think we should twist ourselves in knots trying to attract "the social Christian of yesteryear" who, I think, is probably no longer interested in coming to church because there are more interesting things to do on a Sunday.

Beccabumps said...

...but what about being 'all things to all people'...attracting the odd and strange, the old and infirm...i was challenged recently in my desire to see our church family grow in confidence, faith and size that when i envisaged it it was full of young professionals all capable of leading groups and developing worship and 'bouncing'. How we attract people and 'package' ourselves is another matter...

PamBG said...

Becca, I'm wondering if we're talking past each other. I'm not entirely certain we're talking about the same thing.

From where I sit - as a sort of "ex" minister and as someone who has attended a few clergy meetings here in the US - there seems to be perpetual focus on the fact that there are less people in church than there were in the 1970s (or in the 1980s in the case of the US).

Much focus on "How can we change ourselves in order to attract people who don't go to church to come to our church?"

My first problem with this is that I see "our church" as a rather clubby concept. Why should people come to "our church"? Why shouldn't "our church" go out into the world with the Gospel? Why do we expect the unchurched to come to the Gospel?

It just seems to me that churches are getting caught in an anxiety-loop and instead of focusing on worshiping God, we're focusing on doing artificial things to make ourselves attractive to people who aren't actually interested.

My thought is that each congregation - like each individual - has certain Spiritual Gifts and that if they focus on God and on the mission that God has called them to, that they might actually end up doing God's will instead of trying to be something that they are not.

Hope that makes sense. I'm emphatically not talking about trying to exclude people.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I read and replied to your comment on John Munier's blog about clergy losing their faith, and I find yet again a kindred spirit across the connection!

That brought me over here, where I love your thoughts and conversations happening about faithful worship and faithful being-the-church. Preach on!

Another Becca

PamBG said...

Pastor Becca, thanks for your comment and I'm going to bookmark your blog.

(Beccabumps, I've had yours bookmarked for awhile.)

This is obviously the "Becca thread" and you are both very welcome here.

Andynotbecca said...

Some really good points here, which echo Paul when he says "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)

You shouldn't have to compromise the gospel to reach out to people. There's a big difference between non-compromising outreach and isolation.