Many churches are struggling. We can blame it on a pandemic, but perhaps it simply exposed and expedited what was already happening.
There are so many questions, but in simpler moments, I tend toward reducing them to two, at least when it comes to reaching others and sharing our faith.
- How can we get them here?
- How can we equip and encourage them there?
There are plenty of other questions regarding discipleship, affecting every person no matter how young or mature they are in their faith. It’s paramount but isn’t in the scope of this post. Back to the two questions I’ve proposed…
We invite. We try to include others. We set aside specific dates and plan special events. And we simultaneously acknowledge the divide and perhaps even widen it. As we try to explain why our approaches aren’t working, we talk about how “they” aren’t committed enough, their priorities need corrected, or we assume that we know what they want as if changing one or two things—which might never happen because, well, we have limits—would get the results we want.
Fitting others into our schedules and structure doesn’t always work. It might be convenient for us but will limit our impact. I don’t think our motivations are always selfish but I certainly believe we don’t always consider individuals . We claim relationships are important, but our efforts belie us and remind others just how important schedule and structure are.
What if, in addition to getting people here, we spend efforts to equip and encourage others in their “there”? Not just projects, where we sweep in and deliver our goods and dollars and group efforts but people, individuals, connections? We all know individuals who do this well, but as a church, to we prepare people to do it well? Do we help people see others as people, not as projects, to impact lives in an everyday lives? Do we continue to draw the line between us and them or do we relate to people where they are, get to know who they are, let them know who we are, and grow the connections together from there?
Us/them, here/there. Maybe we need to lighten those lines.