Thursday, 29 May 2008

Church and change

I find it very interesting at the moment with church in this country.

It strikes me that we may have to radically rethink what it means to 'do' church in today's culture. Thankfully I still have a good amount of friends who are not church goers.  Talking with them about their opinions of church, God etc helps me understand why people don't go to church and helps me remember why I didn't go to church.  The truth is, the typical 'Sunday Morning' style church service is still SOOOOO alien to me.  I really do not understand a lot of the time what people are going on about!  Why do Christians use such weird expressions?  'we need to push though..', 'Let us enter a time of worship...', 'the anointing is on me...', 'just lay it at the foot of the cross...', and on that note, why do we say 'just' so much?  'Lord Jesus, I just want to thank you.  I just want to say how great you are, its just so amazing to just know you and just be in your presence...'!!!  

Thinking and chatting things through I think there are some common factors as to why people don't go to church:
1. Irrelevance - The language and style are strange and out of touch with today's generation. I believe we need to be true to the Gospel (the story of what God has been doing and will do with humans and creation) and not merge into insignificance, but we need to be relevant.
2. Relationships - Jesus new a lot of different people! So many people who go to church don't know anyone who doesn't go to church!  So many Christians have Christian friends, and that's it.  So when Christians go around trying to invite their community to church, the community resists coz they don't know, and with that trust, the people who are inviting them.  The most amount of our time needs to be with people who don't go to church to simply be with them and build good relationships up.
3. Perception - This links in with 1 and 2.  Because we are not in the community the perception of church is one of irrelevance, boredom and judgmental attitudes.  Truth is, a lot of churches practice those three things!  If however, we can challenge these perceptions by modeling a different, relevant and radical way, then we're gonna make some ground.  

Churches task
1. Become a relevant community - By speaking in relevant ways, telling people about God using real language.  That is both inside and outside the church.  Part of that relevance is by being where the people are.  Pubs, clubs, cafes etc.
2. Build good relationships outside the church - Jesus spent so much of his time with those outside the synagogues.  He ate and drank with the people and spent time with them.  we are called to do the same.  But we do not merge into the community as such, but are distinct, living a life that mirrors Christ Jesus.  What I mean by that is IF all your mates are getting drunk, resist.  IF your mates want to go to the strip club, resist. (I use this example because this was the position I was in not long ago). Show another way.
3. Change people's perception - Don't be a judgmental hypocrite.  What right do we have to judge? Show people that Christianity is not about a life of boredom, but a fulfilling life that happens in real life, everyday, not in the church on a Sunday.  The church has to change its ways though by radically rethinking how we do church on Sunday's.  Today's culture want to discuss and challenge views, where is the space to do that on a Sunday? Is church boring? Then change. Is church irrelevant? Then change. Is church judgmental? Then change.  We are a people of change.   


People Power Granny said...

Here's an idea! I forecast that during my lifetime corporations as we know them today will be history! People want local, not global. They want personal service, not decisions up the line across the world. They want to know the boss, not just read about him or her in the Wall Street Journal. People Power Granny's post tonight addresses this very subject. And you can vote in my poll on whether you agree with me. Let's go and stay local!

Joe said...

I agree! Local is the only way forward, not only with regard to business, but with the way we live our entire lives. It does raise serious questions about evangelism, but, Church is about change and we must listen to what the Spirit is saying...

ricey said...

This post is a breath of fresh air and there is a lot in it I identify with, but (you could see a 'but' coming, couldn't you!)it's a common mistake to think that making Church relevant will solve everything. Today's relevance is tomorrow's naff.

We confuse relevance with 'life'. There needs to be life in Church, in worship - in life in fact.

So many people lead dead lives.

No matter what flavour of Christian we are, we 'just' need to avoid lazy repetition and live our lives as the Body of Christ. It is that which will attract people to us, make tham ask 'What have Christians got that I don't?'

Someone can tell me about tennis all day long. I will not be interested. I will not care. I will shut off. IF I see someone's life energised and positively altered in a subtle, engaging way, then one fine day I find out it's tennis that's done it, I might - just might - ask them about tennis....

Joe said...

Cheers Steve for picking me up on that...

I suppose what I mean by 'making church relevant' is that we live out the gospel in a real, life transforming way. Relevance is what is here and now, what we are going through here and now. Relevance is about knowing that what is happening in the world around me is not brushed under the carpet and ignored. Relevance is seeing that those issues around me are known by and transformed by Jesus.

I think this is something of what I mean by relevance...