One of the common assumptions when people fail to turn up to church is that we need to improve the experience of church gatherings, the “product”. We need better music, more relevant sermons, multimedia presentations, engaging dramas. Or we need to relocate to pubs, cafes, art centres. We need cool venues with cool people and cool music. The problem with this approach is the assumption that people will come to church if the product is better. But remember that 70% of the UK population have no intention of attending a church service, and these figures are even higher among young people….Sunday morning in church is the one place where evangelism cannot take place in our generation because the lost are not there – not until we go out to connect with them where they are, where they feel comfortable, on their territory. We need to do church and mission in the context of everyday life. We must think of church as a community of people who share life, ordinary life.
I think that they have hit onto something here. Most of the time the church has a “come to us” approach and we put on events and services that expect people to enter our doors and hear the Gospel. But is that working? Maybe it is in some areas but largely I am seeing that it isn’t so much anymore. We base our Christian lives mainly around events and church events or christian conferences, filling our time and our lives up with these things that we end up pushing out time with our work mates or neighbours, which results in us not building up relationships with them and thus why would they ever want to step into a church? Chester mentions that the church can be as entertaining and flashy as it wants to be, but it can’t compete with the modern world of entertainment. So it should be offering something better and more real. Like the Gospel in community, where people aren’t centered around the sunday service but the conversation down the pub with their work mates or the mum’s social with a few of the neighbours round for tea and cake and then see relationships flourish and opportunities for them to come into a church community and hear more of Christ.
What worries me is that often we see young couples or wise/energetic people in church and our first thought is how can they serve in the church and the areas we come up with are being leaders, worship leaders, homegroup leaders etc and then we set up a few evenings of training and get them to serve where they can spend several evenings a week and a weekend in church and church events. Sometimes that is good and its good to raise leaders. But I often wonder why don’t we equip those promising young couples or wise/energetic older people with how to share Jesus in their work place? Like how to be a teacher that shows Jesus to the students and other teachers in the school? How to be a factory worker that speaks well of Jesus and shares life with their work mates? So that instead of taking more time away from them and plugging them into church events, why not equip them to do their work roles well, so they can build up community in their work mission field and share Jesus with people? Just a thought.