Monday, August 11, 2014

How to keep people from coming to your church...

Joe, Stan's next door neighbor, stopped by one day.

"Hey Stan, I heard you are a preacher or something trying to start a new church. Why didn't you tell me, man?"

"Joe, I thought it would be better for us to be friends first before I let the cat out of the bag about being a pastor."

"Oh," said Joe in kind of a disappointed tone, "So you thought, hiding who you were and what you were doing was a good way to make a friend. You must not be from around here, huh?"

"No, but I know God has called me hear to help make this a better place," said Stan.

"It's a pretty good spot as it is, Stan, with some pretty good people. Maybe if you'd come over more often to my house when we've invited you to some parties, you'd see this is a good bunch of folks."

"Thanks Joe. Yeah, I probably shoulda done that before. Why don't you come on over to our church service next week and I'll plan to make it to one of your next parties?"

"That's great! I'd love to come. I ain't been to church much; what do you guys got planned?"

"Well, we have a bounce house in the children's ministry area, and we have a great alternative band leading the music every Sunday."

"I see; I see. That's kinda different. What about the Bible? You gonna teach me about Jesus from the Bible?"

"Well, we hope to get to the Bible and Jesus soon, but we think the best place to start is to just have conversations and to get to know one another. You know, share our lives."

"Yeah, we could do that, sure. But I do that all the time with all kinds of people. Most of us, as we are talking, often scratch our heads wondering what God might have to say about our messed up worlds and messed up lives. Maybe that Bible of yours could give us some answers."

"Joe, I don't want to be a Bible-beater just telling you what to believe. You need to discover the truth for yourself."

"Well, Stan, that there's the problem. I really want to know the truth, but I ain't found it yet. Didn't Jesus say something about being the way, the truth, and the life. That's what I need to know...heck, that's who I need to know. Could you tell me about him?"

"Joe, there's plenty of time for that, but there's more to church than Jesus. We have things like community, service projects, and helping the needy."

"Yeah, Stan, that's good. But what if I'm the needy one? When you gonna help me? I'm starving spiritually to be honest. Maybe if I had a bite to eat at the Lord's Table I'd be full."

"Joe, the Table is just a symbol. And we don't serve enough food to fill your belly anyway."

"Yeah, I didn't mean that I was looking for a bite of Jesus' flesh or anything. But gosh Stan, I've always thought it would be an amazing thing to feel like I could come up to God's table and eat from His bounty. I just don't think I deserve nothing like that."

"None of us do. That's why you gotta have faith."

"Faith in what Stan? Heck, you talk as if you don't have faith in God at all. Do you even know this guy? What kind of church are you starting? I might as well just hang out with my old buddies if all you got is conversation, discovering, conversation, and faith in who knows what."

"Well my church isn't for everyone."

"I'll let you in on a little secret, Stan. If you don't propose to tell people about all that God has done through Jesus and remember all that God has done through Jesus with that meal of His, I don't think you are going to be a church at all."

Monday, August 04, 2014

"Why are all the churches not doing it for me?"

About 45 minutes into a monthly lunch between two colleagues, Tom turns to Nate and says, "So, Nate, how's 1st Gospel Church working out?"

"Oh, well, we're not going there anymore."

"Really? Just last month you'd only been there 3 weeks and you said, you and Sarah loved it."

"Yeah, well, it turns out we weren't really getting fed there."

"Huh?" uttered Tom, "That's what you said about 2nd Baptist--the church you visited three months ago."

"Yeah, I know," said Nate, "It just seems like the churches around here just don't help us grow spiritually."

"Have you ever thought about going back to the church you went to for two years when you first moved here? I thought you liked that one quite a bit."

"We did, you know, at first. But after being there a few years, no one reached out to us. We hadn't made any friends. And after a while, even the sermons weren't that helpful."

"I thought you said they were the most friendly church in town?" asked Tom.

"Oh, they are. But after you've been there six months, they quit calling. They kinda expect you to start serving, leading, and what not. We just couldn't do anything like that with four kids under twelve, you know?"

"But wasn't there a small group or some Bible studies that were for individuals and couples your age? That seems like a good place to get plugged in."

"Yeah, but they always met on nights we were already committed to field hockey or ballet. The group leaders called every few months or so. They made us feel so guilty, like they didn't understand all the commitments we had, and then they wanted us to do more stuff."

"Maybe the reason you weren't making friends is you were too committed to others things than the various church activities?"

"Yeah, maybe. But if they really cared about us, they would have asked us when we were available and scheduled activities then. We were so sad to leave. We could just tell they didn't care."

"Had you ever considered hosting a Bible study in your home on a night you were available?"

"We would you know, if our kids were a bit older, but it's just not the time in life for something like that. We're looking for other things right now."

"I see," responded Tom scratching his chin, "So, what are you looking for then?"

"I think the same thing everyone wants. We want a church that feels like family, teaches us about God, and has great ministries for both kids and adults."

"I'm surprised no church in the area has at least something close to that."

"Me too," said Nate, "It's really frustrating."

"Hey Nate?"

"Yeah, Tom."

"Have you ever considered that each of these breakups might be about you?"

"What are you saying?"

"Well, let me think. There was your family and 1st Gospel Church. There was your family and 2nd Baptist Church. There was your family and your first church. It seems like the similarity in all these church problems is your family. You're the only common denominator."