Wednesday, June 02, 2010

More thoughts on “train and release” versus “convert and retain”

As a follow-up to my prior post. The focus of the church, by and large, is to bring people in to the “worship service” to sing some songs, drop a contribution in the plate, hear a sermon and then go home. We want to get people to come to church. We use all manner of methods to get them to show up: mass mailings, pushing Christians to invite their neighbors to come to church, offering VBS and youth group to attract kids hoping that parents will follow. We have signs advertising the times of services and provide lots of info on church webpages to make sure people know what a particular church believes, why you should come to “this” church and not “that” church and how to get to the building. It is all about getting people to come to us.

Shouldn’t the focus of the church be to equip the saints to leave the church building and go about the business of making disciples? Instead of recipients of ministry, aren’t we all called to be dispensers of ministry? That is what Ephesians 4: 11-16 is all about, i.e. the mature leaders in the church equipping the rest of the church (and being equipped as well) to go out and minister to people. It is not about equipping them to invite people to church, it is about acting like the church.

For all of my criticisms of church buildings, perhaps none is more pointed than this. The church building is a hiding place, somewhere for Christians to go that is safe and somewhat anonymous, a place that makes us feel like we are being “good Christians” while not doing anything we are called to do. We are not called to come and sit and listen, we are called to go and serve and proclaim. Anything that impedes us from doing so probably needs to go or at least be radically changed. I wonder if we should replace our comfy pews with folding chairs, remove the A/C and overhead projectors, anything to make sitting around less appealing. Maybe if we stopped looking at our church buildings as destinations and started seeing them as launching pads we would finally see the Great Commission taking place.

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