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?”)
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”…?