I belong to a church experiencing symptoms of decline. We began having regular meetings last year to discuss our identity and how we might be a more effective body. There is a genuine longing to be who God would have us be and every conversation stems from that longing.
We tried to avoid topics such as re-structuring, new programs, new events, better Internet presence and social media, but bringing them up could not be helped. It can seem like such an obvious fix for what is perceived to be broken. It is easy to pour money into a program to generate attendance and a sense of community; or to use Internet presence to bolster these efforts with the expectation that it will bring new blood. Those efforts certainly have the potential to yield the desired outcome, and my church uses them, but none provide any real solution.
What I mean is: they serve to stretch an already thin group of hands and feet while providing a mere shadow of what church should really be about. In another post I talk about how worship can turn into a distraction from God rather than a focus on God. Our approach to the whole business of church can turn into the same thing.
A program, an Internet presence, or a better location will not help my church—or any church—not in any real way. Using such an approach can provide instant results and a sense of accomplishment but it does not last. It becomes a game, trying to figure out what the next angle should be or what pithy phrase will garner the greatest reaction.
God has been at work in His church longer than any business mentality has been on our human brain. God can work in and through anything but it is important, as the church, to put our energies toward what is most important: whole-heartedly pursuing God and loving those He loves. If we spent as much time doing either as we do, the word decline would not be in our vocabulary.
We do not always pursue God or love—not really. We search for something outside ourselves to fix our problems, but so often it is not God for whom we search, it is a quick fix; something to put ourselves in control. New programs, the number of hits on a church’s website, or how often a tweet is retweeted, are worldly solutions to worldly problems. The only solution to our world and our churches is to seek God and to be an extension of the overwhelming power of His love.
Every human on this planet yearns for a love like His and every time we try to grasp for something else we draw back an empty hand. We think good business is the key to good church, but good business can mean taking God’s power out of church because we are too busy trying to do church our way. God does not operate within the box of our logic, no matter how hard we try to put Him there.
Business is the world’s logic. God can do whatever He chooses.