5.18.2014

Our Demographic: The World

I was raised in small churches and have been going to church since I was a tiny baby. Maybe I didn't realize it was there but I never remember the pastor making a big deal about what the "vision" of the church was. I think maybe all of us in the congregation knew what the point was. We were a community of believers hanging out together on Sunday and going back out into the field to bring back as many as we could next time. We didn't have to have a slogan or a sign or a card to hand out, we just did it.

I know that times change, and new generations need different avenues to express their uniqueness, and society gets used to things their way, and some would even say that the American church is a travesty. As a church goer and then a member of the pastor's family and now a pastor's wife, I have heard all sorts of complaints about the church from Christians and non-Christians. I can't get into the music, the music is too loud, the nursery isn't staffed properly, the youth group doesn't reach out to my teen, I don't like the coffee they serve, the air is on too low, the seats aren't comfortable, I don't like the way the pastor, or worship team, or staff dresses (too formal or not formal enough), this environment just isn't reaching me, etc., etc., etc. The list could go on and on. But first we have to realize that this is not a new phenomenon!

Let's travel back in time to the people of Israel. They have been miraculously rescued from a life of drudgery and generations of slavery, but they've got room to complain. They complained about no food (Exodus 16:2-3) and then they complained about the food God supplied (Numbers 11:4-6). They complained about Moses leadership style. They thought he was too holy (Exodus 34:33), and then they thought he thought he was better than them (Numbers 16:1-3). Their grumbling and complaining and general lack of faith kept them from entering the Promised Land and receiving the blessings God wanted to pour out on them.

The church was established in the New Testament but things didn't go smoothly for them either. Paul took up a lot of space with instructions for the various churches he oversaw that seem almost ridiculous. The Corinthians had to be reminded that the head of the church was Jesus not the particular pastor's teaching that they preferred to listen to. People were getting drunk during communion and speaking out of turn. Sleeping around, cheating one another, spreading gossip. These were Christians he was admonishing...What? Doesn't sound too different nowadays.

We hear a lot about the American church and its insatiable need to be catered to. Its "you're not giving me what I need!" mentality. Having been to churches in other countries around the world and worshiping in unfurnished, non-air conditioned buildings with no electricity or sound system I would tend to agree. However, I am sure given the nature of all mankind, that the pastors of those churches could relate to Paul and Moses as well.

Are You Not Entertained?
The thing that gets me is this trend towards each church having a vision and a mission statement and a stated demographic that we are trying to reach. The pull is strong to want to stand out from the other churches. I mean our cities are not exactly unreached populaces. You can locate a church on just about every corner. The choices to the people are limited only by their personal desires. But, before leaving this earth Jesus gave each one what we needed to navigate the call.
Matthew 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 What's the vision of the church? To see the lost saved...

What's the mission? Make disciples of all nations...

What demographic are we trying to reach? The world...

We can dress it up and make it fancy to suit your need to feel unique and cutting edge, but bottom line its about a community that has been building since the foundation of time to join together in unity gathering as many as we can to culminate in a great and glorious reunion.
Ephesians 5:25-27 ...just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
That radiant church doesn't qualify because it has the best worship, or announcement videos, or coffee shop, or newest, coolest, flashiest bait...the qualification is holiness and blamelessness. Are we striving toward those characteristics in our outreach programs? What about our own "me, me, me" demands for our local church body? Our example is a man who laid down His own life for us, how does streamlining the Sunday morning service work into that scenario? When was the last time you laid down your own desires for another person?

I don't want to be a part of the generation that complains and murmurs and doesn't get into the promise...let's get this thing together and look towards the goal in front of us.

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