Okay. So churches are shrinking (yawn) and the latest Pew study says that the "none" category, those who claim no religious affiliation, is growing. This is not earth-shattering news. We have all been living and feeling this for a long time. Spoiler alert: things around church will never again be like they used to be. Nor should they--we are the reformers. The same Christ who bids us to "come and die and be raised" calls the church to do the same. Let's go ahead and move on. Enough hand-wringing. Enough grief. Enough. Because when we can let go of what was...we make room for what is before us. And what is before us is a freakin' miracle. Seriously. Every time you gather for worship--and people come--it is a miracle. Don't take that for granted. Those folks have chosen to use their precious discretionary time to gather for worship. It is a cross-cultural revolution right before your very eyes. There are 100 other ways (which are likely more fun/easier) that they could spend those hours. Given that weekly miracle to which you bear witness, it really ought not to suck. I don't mean it has to be polished or professional or high or low or contemporary or emergent or contemplative. Figure out what works best for your people (pastors...your people, not you) and then make it meaningful. Let not one bit of sentimental drivel pass your lips. Do not give in to the temptation of cute or trite. The words you say have to be Gospel truth.
Guess what else? The Gospel is crazy hard. "Come and die and be raised" is not a sexy message. It is actually a hard sell. Yet, it is also what sets us free. And makes us odd. So don't compromise it or explain it away. (You can comfort yourself with the fact that Jesus attracted thousands and then essentially preached his way down to zero by the time he got to the cross.)
The leader (Camp Counselor Yac) of my conference in Austin said that most people come to worship because they want to connect with God and with one another. And what they find when they show up to a typical worship setting is one person (the preacher) talking about his/her connection with God. I can't quite shake this because...it's fairly accurate. How might we attend to this better? What do we have to give up?
Jeni Grangaard has been rockin' the insight world with her blog. Thirty thoughts for the church to engage the 30% under thirty. Go read it and get your wheels spinning.