What do we do when going to church becomes a social disadvantage?
Thinking differently can be difficult. Our ruts testify to our staggering preferences for the familiar. Even if they slow us down to a creeping clamber, they’re ‘our ruts,’ and we prefer what we know.
But at some point, in our crawl, some of us look up and around and ask, “Is this familiar path that I’m traveling taking me where I need to go?” Certainly, nobody should be asking this question more earnestly and more honestly than those who lead God’s people.
There is so much at stake.
Few among us believe that we are still in the “golden age” of church growth, yet many of our systems are still calibrated with methodologies designed for a previous era. We prioritize launching worship experiences which bake in the preeminent consumeristic value of excellence with the principal metric of attendance. And so, we continue to deploy courageous church planters who heroically attempt to start new churches that are predicated upon an erroneous cultural assumption of a people with ‘church-going credentials’ lurking somewhere in their community.
But here’s the big problem. This audience isn’t hiding, waiting to be discovered. In most places where churches are needed the most – they just aren’t there at all. Appealing to the warm sentiments that recalls a former Christian era misses the target completely. And worse, provoking an indigenous yearning for a more ‘gospel-centered’ version to be offered only further exacerbates the problem. Religious memory has almost completely evaporated leaving precious few of our neighbors with any cultural moorings to church. Any appeals that ignore this fact while further fragmenting the faithful remnant should …