Gosh, come on and smile you people, or is church THAT bad?
Ok, so Tod Bolsinger has summarized for us what people want from the perfect church. I love the ideas people mentioned and those things not mentioned. What a nice gaggle of Christian folk. However, this whole topic has me wondering, what about people that don't usually, or do seldom, or won't ever -- go to church. What do THEY want? This question lead me here, where there are some rather scary thoughts on "unchurched" folk.
Try on for size:
- There has been a 92% increase in the number of unchurched Americans in the
last thirteen years. In 1991 there were 39 million unchurched Americans compared with 75 million currently. (2004) 92%!!
- Men are one-third more likely than women to be unchurched (38% of men and 28% of women are unchurched). (2000)
- More than half (54%) of unchurched adults consider themselves to be Christian. (2004)
So, what should us church folk DO about this? Pretend like these people don't exist? Work hard to understand what their needs are, and why church is completely irrelevant to them? Care for them, start conversations with them about what they really want from life? Is their indifference about church our problem, do we "own" this one?
Or do we attribute their lack of attendance or interest in church to, well, their sinfulness? Their laziness? I mean heck, they can't get out of bed for a couple hours on Sunday? What is wrong with these people? Why would they want to go hear a potentially irrelevant sermon delivered in a place that looks like 1970 occurred yesterday and mingle with a group of indifferent Christian folk who like like they would also rather be at home, in bed, reading the Sunday paper?
I had lunch yesterday with a pastor friend. He has always been known as a bit of a nonconformist, not really fitting in well with the crowd. He said to me, over sandwiches, "you know, the church as we know it, is a dying breed. Its over."
The more I have thought about this, the more encouraged I become. Perhaps God is doing a new thing? And perhaps those of us who Believe will be called to something really new, and different, much more like the First Century Church, or Revelations calls us to be. Who knows?
Thoughts, comments, questions?