I’m not an expert in the topic of being missional, being a leader, or really anything for that matter, but I have been reading lately some things that really have flushed out one major issue with the Church as we largely know it. That is the paradigm we’ve been operating under. We are by and large operating under the “come and see” paradigm. That’s the “come and see” what we’re all about. “Come and see” what our church has to offer. “Come and see” what’s different about us. “Come and see” what you’re missing.
For some of you, this is not news. For others of you, this is. If this is news to you, you might disagree or might not understand really what the implications of this are. You see, most of us that have gone to church for any amount of time think “that’s what church is” because no matter the different order of service, music, preaching style, etc. it’s all still under the umbrella that “come and see” model.
I believe that’s why we think advertising is our solution to any kind of attendance question. “Well, how can make sure people know we’re putting this awesome Happy Hands program?” “Obviously we need to advertise. On the web. In the paper. On the radio. Can we afford to fly a plane around with a banner?”
Even when we ask, “What can we do to reach the lost?” The answer usually revolves around getting them in the door. Then we put all the pressure on the Pastor to speak so eloquently with the Gospel Truth, that they will eventually see the light and love of God. But all of that is dependent on “come and see” what we do in our building. “Come and see” our pastor.
Even when we think we’re doing things differently by “reaching out” a lot of times we’re just reaching out to pull them in. The “come and see” mode of church is completely and ultimately focused on the goings on in and around the building or campus of the church (or multiple buildings). Most of the time it’s also focused on what the pastor has to say and Sunday, by and large. Sure there are things through out the week, but the focus is Sunday.
We can preach sermons, repeatedly tell people that it’s about what goes on day by day in their lives, but we don’t live with them day by day. We’ve set it up so we are only “sharing in life” or “fellowship” with them mostly on Sundays. Even then, a lot of the time we have 10-15 minute conversations, if we’re lucky.
What if instead of promoting “come and see” we “went and lived”? Instead of reaching out, we moved out to live among the world? What if instead of expecting people to come to us, we took seriously the “Go and make disciples” words of Jesus? What if instead of just good “church attenders” we had 24/7 “Christ followers”?
Don’t pick up the stones just yet, thinking that I am saying we need to get rid of the church building or that having a building is the problem. Buildings are amoral so the the problem can’t be the building. The problem is our focus. The problem is in our attitude. The problem is that we’ve watched Field of Dreams too many times and bought the idea that “If you build it they (the lost) will come.” Well, the lost aren’t coming for the most part. Each generation, less and less are coming.
It seems to me that the focus should be on living life together, demonstrating what a community of believers really is every day. How can you really know someone? Live with them. Go through their tough times and their good times. Celebrate victories and cry through losses together. Pray together. Share in life – better, share in the THE life of Christ with everyone, day in and day out.
How about we spend less time thinking, “if we just had special event X then we’d have 50% of the cities population breaking the door to get in”? How about instead, our lives demonstrate that special event that happened over 2000 years ago? How about we allow God to open doors for us to live a life outside of the 4 walls of a church that allows the light, life, and love of Jesus Christ to show like high-beams through us? What if the way people knew we were Christians is because they KNEW us – intimately – instead of just that they see us leave early on Sundays for the building.
I’m not saying scrap the church or scrap Sunday service. But it seems to me that Sunday’s service is supposed to be a larger gathering of people who have been living life together during the week. Sunday should be a celebration and cap off a Monday through Saturday that was steeped in Christ living in and through you.
And by “you” I mean every single person. Not just the pastor, who would lead, teach, and preach still. But also each and every Christian that understands that they are called to live as missionaries in the mission field of every day life. Every Christian who gets that they are a part of the priesthood of the believers and someone they know doesn’t need to wait until Sunday to go and hear the pastor, because your daily actions are going to be the most powerful testimony they’ll hear. God has put people in your life not just so you can bring them to church on Sunday to meet and listen to your pastor; but so that you can share the life and love of Christ with them.
Instead of fighting tooth and nail to keep your building open and your Sundays like you prefer – what if you fought tooth and nail to give the water of life to the thirsty and dying? “Oh that’s only for the called” you might say. Well, we’re all called to that. “What can I do?” Seek God and let Him work in and through you as He wants; nothing off limits. Allow His life to flow through you in faith and a responding obedience; allowing Him to live out Christ-likeness through you.
What if no price was too high to reach those that were perishing? Obviously that’s the case because The Father sent His Son.
Did Jesus sit in the manger until He died, waiting for all to come and see?
I think it’s time we move our focus out of “come and see” because it’s allowed too many to just “come and sit.” The thirsty await…