Friday, January 12, 2007

The Wrong Question

Wendy at My Backyard posts this excellent article [it's well worth reading the whole article. I am only excerpting a few quotes]

“How can we get more people to come to our church?”...

...My typical answer, no doubt, frustrates the questioner, because it doesn’t include hints or techniques or advertising secrets that will double worship attendance. No, I almost always respond, “It’s the wrong question.” [my emphasis]

At best, the question implies we are operating out of 20th century assumptions: that if we plan the “right” worship service, people will come; that coming to church is the first step in becoming a Christian; that the Sunday worship experience is our primary service to the community.

At worst, the question reveals our hunger for people to join us to keep our congregations alive... we ask the question really wanting to know, “How can we get more people who like to worship just like we do, who will give money to our church budget, and share in the leadership of this congregation?”

The question isn’t how can we get people to come here, it’s how can we get our people to go there. [her emphasis]...

... This sounds obvious, but people who don’t go to church are simply not interested in “going to church”...

to be published in the February 2007 issue of Connections,
a publication of the Presbytery of New Covenant

Most of you reading this blog will not have any problems with this... but... why then, are so many churches more, if not mostly, concerned with getting people to come here, rather than equipping and encouraging people to go there?

Maybe our definition of church is wrong? Maybe our understanding of the purpose of church is lacking? Maybe we need to rethink what and why we do what we do?

I guess that's really what the whole emerging church discussion / conversation is all about... coming to a fresh understanding of what God is doing in the world. By "fresh" I do not mean new for the sake for being different, but new "fresh" in the sense of coming to terms with the biblical story being lived out in our day, not necessarily with a mindset the "church-goers" are comfortable with, but so that as disciples of Jesus we go into this world, with his love and grace.

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