Churches struggle because they battle against the ideals of the New Testament. To paraphrase Chesterton, Christianity isn’t tried and found wanting. It’s been found hard by the church, and not tried. Although small, ordinary, everyday believers are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit, therein lies the rub. In the big system, the Holy Spirit gets replaced. He’s too risky. He’s like the wind, He does what he pleases, and in a corporate system, that becomes too unpredictable. In the huge church system paradigm, personal risk and dependency upon the Holy Spirit get replaced by systems, processes, money, and numbers. Thus, we sacrifice one type of power for another one. In the West we choose to systematize, automate, or medicate any minor annoyance, and we’ve done the same with our spiritual challenges. So the church becomes dependent upon programs instead of people.
This is why the young are leaving in droves. You want to reach young people? Want to reach the nones, dones, mosaics, prodigals, nomads, and exiles? I’ll save you a bunch of reading books that won’t tell you what I’m about to say. Pick a fight with something in your city; Sex trafficking, poverty, orphans, battered women, homeless vets. You name it. Young people aren’t waiting around for the church to get it either. They’ve grown up in the age of the internet appeal. They know the power of the digital groundswell communities, and they’ve been wondering why there’s a massive disconnect between people who talk about Jesus, but don’t do what he did, and people who do what he said, but don’t believe in Him. So they’ve left.
Although chick-fil-a makes a mean chicken sandwich, I can remember visiting family in the South when I was growing up and eating a soggy chicken sandwich on a soggy bun. I never wanted to go there again. Then they reinvented themselves. The CEO of the company told his senior leadership that he was tired of them always focusing on getting bigger. He changed the conversation to getting better. Once they got bigger, he created the need for the company to get bigger. Too bad we’re not selling chicken sandwiches.
If only reaching our generation and turning this situation around were that easy. Some would like to argue that it is. If we just make church better, it will become bigger.
Truth is, the next generation couldn’t give a rip about what we’re doing. It’s what we’re not doing that concerns them. They’re not waiting for us to get better so that they can demand more franchises and floor space. They’re waiting for us to get out there and DO what we talk about on Sundays. When that happens outside our churches, they might start to give a rip about what goes on inside of them.
Crowds are overrated. In my circles leaders talk about reaching critical mass, starting churches with enough cash, launching strong. To do what? Survive. Really? That’s what we’re supposed to be doing? Surviving? Maybe that’s part of the problem. IF a big crowd is all it takes to make ministry look successful, then Jesus must have been a failure. Every time I read my bible, he didn’t seem too crazy about crowds.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.