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.
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.