When you drive around on Sunday mornings you will pass numerous churches along the way. At one intersection near me, there are THREE churches on each corner of the intersection. Wow. That’s a lot in one place!
One comedian said that when one of his kids prayed at the table before a meal, he closed with “Ah-men”. His brother argued that it should be “A-men”. This argument went back and forth for several minutes until their father said, “And this is why we have thousands of different denominations today.”
When you read the New Testament about what Jesus did while He was on the earth, you will find that He spent very little time in church and He never started a church of His own. The times He spent in the synagogues, it was mostly to confront the religious leaders of His day. They didn’t like Jesus very much and did everything they could to dispute anything He did. He even did the unthinkable when He had the audacity to heal someone on the sabbath day. How scandalous!
You will find in most of his life that Jesus went to the people. He didn’t sit in a church and wait for people to come to Him. He went to meet people – even the sinners.
Today’s church has it backwards. Too many ministries have built huge buildings to “reach the lost” or “spread the gospel” but they are little in actually doing it. Instead, they are increasing their church bank accounts for them and the people who enter their buildings. This is a travesty. You wouldn’t find Jesus going to any of these churches. He would be in the hospitals healing the sick, helping the homeless on the city streets and comforting those who are in need and nowhere near a church building.
There are some churches who have done more than just go to their buildings. My cousin’s son-in-law had a ministry which would go out to the community on Sunday mornings instead of the traditional church routine. I don’t know if they still do this or not but THAT is how a church should be. I think too many times people are trying to increase their attendance totals for their organization rather than for the Lord. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference. They desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves.
In my last years in the church, I tried to urge my pastor and leaders to think outside of the box and do church differently but they were more concerned about preaching a sermon from the pulpit on Sunday mornings than going out and actually doing something. What happens in that situation is that you get stuck in a rut where you go to church and you leave church in the building until you return the next time. That’s not what it is about. No wonder the church is suffering a decline in attendance.
People don’t want to be accountable. It is easier to attend church at a megachurch with thousands of other people, sing some praise and worship songs projected on a screen and listen to a preacher entertain people with their monologue for 45 minutes. Done. You’ve put a check mark in church attendance for that week. I used to be one of those who couldn’t miss church. I had to be there every time the doors opened. Somehow in my thinking, I must have thought perfect church attendance was a measurement of my relationship and service to God. It was not. Perfect church attendance doesn’t impress God. Loving others impresses Him much more than sitting in your assigned pew on Sunday mornings.
It doesn’t work guilting people into going to church. Offering them more user-friendly Sunday morning services won’t work. Getting people to attend church isn’t equivalent to getting them to commit to Jesus. Church attendance or non-attendance is a less accurate measure of someone’s commitment level or spiritual maturity than we’ve convinced ourselves it is. Sure, gathering with fellow believers matters but with a purpose, not the traditional church mindset.
It’s time to do church different. It’s time to get for churches to actually go out and be the church.