All is not well in the church. You know it and I know it. God surely knows it. Our leaders know it, even though they’re not talking about it. So much of church nowadays is about running a show, and well, the show must go on. Even if it means that we don’t talk about how poorly the show is being attended these days.
But what if church was being poorly attended simply because it was a performance?
For over two decades now, our leaders have attempted to attract huge crowds with marketing campaigns, elaborate stage sets, and massive props that would make the U2 PopMart tour envious. The goal of church leaders has been to make the show ever better, with the assumption that if the show was “good enough” the masses would keep flooding in. But what if the very reason that my generation has leaked out is simply because church has become a show?
That means that no matter how good the show is, it will never attract my generation. Simply because we are entertained enough, and when it comes to going to church, we don’t want more entertainment – rather, we want to escape it.
In the old days, they used to call the church a sanctuary. It was a place for drowning everything else out, a respite from the noise, a shelter from the storm. But nowadays, the louder, brighter, and faster the flurry, the better.
Now, more than ever, people long to return to the quiet rhythm of their souls. They want to connect meditatively with Jesus. They need to contemplate. They need to be involved.
You may be tempted to think that people need to hear something more ________ (fill in the blank). But people are more than ears. They need more than to simply listen. They need to interact – to participate – to move their spiritual muscles again. To get moving. To Act.
I’m starting off this seven part series I’ve entitled “Seven Pivotal Shifts That Will Revolutionize Churches In 2018”
Is it click bait? Heck yeah. Is it gimmicky? Maybe.
But what’s going to follow certainly isn’t.
In many ways, what you’re about to read is largely counterintuitive, yet you know it’s true.
There are actually seven things that I think will revolutionize the church. For some reason, people like to know little snippets of bite-sized facts. All the better if it’s something that will revolutionize the church.
And needing a revolution, the church does!
Before you read anymore, I’ve should tell you where I’m coming from. I’ve been mulling over my “flavor” for quite some time. Every Christian leader, or network has a flavor.
For example, Jeff Vanderstelt is the “Missional Community” guy. Carey Niewholf is the “Working with Millenials” guy. Dave Ferguson is the “Multiplying Churches” guy.
You follow me?
But what is the unique pitch or tone that God has given my voice in a sea of noise?
Here’s my flavor: A return to 1st Century style church planting.
For years now, I’ve trained leaders to plant churches in hard to reach places both in America and abroad. Fun factoid: when I mapped out what I did to convince people how they should reach the 21st century, I was always drawn back to the 1st. I was a missionary in Europe for 12 years. Here’s what I found – reaching Europe in the 21st century was largely like reaching America in the 22nd century. In other words, Europe is light years ahead of where America is culturally speaking. In America, we aren’t even asking the questions yet that European Christians are finding answers to. Most of our answers in Europe involved falling back on 1st century principles and practice. Why? Because it was all we could do.
Most of the Megachurch tactics running the game in America was of no use to the culture we were facing there. And it’s already starting to show here.
Europeans didn’t care how good your worship band was, how hip your speaker was, or whether your building had a coffee shop. Nor does this generation in America. When I returned to America in 2011, I wrote a book called Church Zero “If what I’m writing in this book doesn’t make sense, wait ten or twenty years…and it will.” It hasn’t even been that long, and it’s starting to make sense.
So let’s get past the introduction, and dig into why I think that the churches who actually make an impact in 2018 are 1st century style churches. In the coming posts, I’ll unpack what churches that reach people actually do, and I think it will resonate with what you see happening around you. In other words, it’ll start to make sense…even if most of our churches don’t.