I Think We’re Asking The Wrong Question

Most churches I know seem to fall into one of two categories: those that work hard to get more people into their buildings, and those who don’t care much if anyone new shows up.

Churches in the first group, often called “seeker sensitive”, spend small fortunes and countless hours trying to interest a consumer-oriented society to join in and follow Christ.

But it hasn’t always worked. Bill Hybels, founding pastor of the famous Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area, recently admitted that they have, basically, failed to make mature disciples with their otherwise successful approach. (See more at “Willow Creek Repents?”)

Whether a church calls itself “seeker sensitive”, or whether it doesn’t care much for reaching the modern masses, both classes of churches seem to be missing the whole point.

Our calling isn’t to move heaven and earth to get more people in the building, but it’s to move the universe (if needed) to make our churches a place where God wants  to attend.

When the Creator of all things, the One who is love, appears in our assemblies, we won’t have to convince people to come. They’ll be drawn like iron to a magnet. They’ll “fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'” (1 Cor. 14:25)

When HE comes to church, the crowd won’t behave like they’re in the local mall or doze or check out the audience for fashion tips. They might behave more like those in Acts 5:11 – “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

When the Presence enters the assembly, we might see the church operate like the one in Acts 9:31 that was “strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

We’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of, “How do we get more people involved in this church?” – we should be concerned with, “How do we make a hospitable, holy environment for the Lord Himself to come?”.

Got any suggestions? How does all this fit with why our churches should be “houses of prayer”…?

4 Comments

  1. Looks like you have addressed a third category. And by your statement “Most churches I know seem to fall into one of two categories” would mean that the church which you describe as “hospitable, holy environment for the Lord Himself to come” is in the minority. And that is so sad. Keith Green sang a song about the church being dead.

    I believe that those churches who have a “hospitable, holy environment for the Lord” just continue to “be” the church and therefore are pleasing to the Lord.

  2. Thanks, Skip. I think most believers mean well, but too many churches are in that minority category you mentioned. I agree that we should just continue to “be” the church.

  3. We’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of, “How do we get more people involved in this church?” – we should be concerned with, “How do we make a hospitable, holy environment for the Lord Himself to come?”.

    Keith, I think the question should be,’How do we get the church(meaning its members) involved with the people(meaning unchurched and lost).” Most in church at best are “believers” and not ‘disciples”. The Acts churches were not about meetings in buildings but about outside the buildings where everyday life goes on, touching people the other six days of the week. The church was the training grounds and equipping place for the soldiers of Christ to go out from with an equipping. The church was “sent out” not ‘kept in”. Church is not what happens on Sunday it is the rest of the week that is true church.

    Yes, we are definitely asking the wrong questions and trying to attract lost to a building instead of being attractive Christlike people every day in the worlds we live in.
    Michael Walker michael@lifecatalystconsulting.com

  4. Good point, brother. When God shows up, whether in “church” or in everyday life, our hearts will vibrate to the same frequency as His heart. We will care for people as He does.

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