Wednesday, July 01, 2015


What Draws People To Church

Chaplain Mike on how people pick a church:
Serious evangelical spokespersons and teachers try to emphasize the movement’s worldview, its doctrines — in short, its truth. Bebbington’s fourfold model has often been cited: conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism, as a basic skeleton upon which the various evangelical churches, missions, and schools form their bodies. And despite that skeleton, those bodies do indeed come with a variety of shapes and sizes and features. Southern Baptists are not Nazarenes, and the Church of God folks around me here in the Midwest don’t look at all like evangelical Presbyterians. Furthermore, just because you attend a non-denominational church doesn’t mean the specific cultural characteristics of your group match the culture of the other non-denom down the street.

For folks on the ground, what usually makes the most difference is not the statement of faith. It’s the culture. The (often unspoken) question is: Do I, can I fit in that world?

Can I live with the style of the building and the sanctuary, the kind of music and the songs they sing or don’t sing, how they practice the various elements of worship, the kind of “personality” the church exhibits, the way people dress, the language with which they converse, the way they do the children’s programs and the youth group, the Christian celebrities, books, and media they endorse, the way people pray, how people talk about public issues and politics and culture, the style and approach the pastor uses in preaching, the colleges their students go off to attend, the camps, recreation and vacation spots church members prefer, the methods by which the church receives giving and donations, how accessible the pastors and other leaders are, the way the congregation makes decisions, and so on.
He goes on to point out that it is this culture that really forms people.

I think it is fair to say; therefore, that most people are going to select a culture that does not challenge them too much, or challenges them only where they want tot be challenged and to the degree that they want to be challenged. That's not entirely unreasonable, when teaching someone it is possible to go too far, too fast and have them simply reject the teaching becasue for whatever reason they cannot keep up. But conversely it is also possible to have such "I can't do this" tantrums retard teaching generally. And what of those that want to pick up the challenge readily, deeply and rapidly? Do they simply get pushed aside to concentrate on the majority?

The answer lies, I think, in two important phenomena. 1) whatever the culture of the church, it has to be a culture that demands increasing maturity. Yes at different paces and in different way, but it must demand that everyone rise to the next small challenge. 2) The church has to have enough going for it to offer this wide variety of challenges.

Christ had mass meeting for the large crowds and small discussion with the twelve. Christ had those with whom He was quite close but who did not travel with Him. He seemed, almost miraculously to know where the people He came in contact with were,a nd how to move them forward in their individual journey with Him. The church needs, desperately, to develop that capability. None of us are Christ, I doubt individually we can do it like He did, but I do think we can develop that capability corporately. But to do so will require looking at the church as more than just "my ministry" or "your ministry."

I am driven once again to a thought I have had for some time. The church needs to work on itself for a whole to be better at reaching out.


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