Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reaching In

I heard a radio ad for a church today.

Does that seem odd to anyone else but me?

Okay, ads for used car lots, Mexican restaurants, plumbers, lawyers and grocery stores...obviously, those are legit. But a church?!

So, you might ask yourself, "What does an ad for a church sound like?"
'Softest pews on the planet'?
'Holiest pastor'?

Well, you're not far off. This particular mega church touted "dynamic preaching and teaching" and "inspiring worship" as a way of "reaching out" to the city and the surrounding community.

Reaching out?

Sounds to me like reaching in.

Suppose I am a homeless begger, driven to life on the street by my addictions, or perhaps, just my circumstance. Or maybe I am a wealthy, suburban wife whose husband just left her for another woman. Or maybe I am a person who, on the outside, has it all together, but can't seem to find a way to fill a gnawing emptiness that is eating me alive. Suppose I don't know God or how He fits into this equation called "life" at all.

Am I looking for "dynamic preaching" and "inspiring worship"?

The people looking for that are consumeristic Christians, looking for a church that meets their needs. Because, after all, isn't that the point of church? To go and be "fed"? To have your "cup filled"?

Call me crazy, folks, but I'm thinking we've got this whole church thing backwards.

Is the begger better served by a Bible or a hot meal?


Meredith said...

It's definitely a trend.

Our community's nondenominational megachurch prides itself on reaching disenchanted Christians. They bought a giant billboard off the interstate that reads "Religion without rules. Wear your jeans."

HeartsDesire said...

You have such a point. I see church ads all the time, some self serving, some not. The ads here don't bother me, because most of the preachers in them are actively in the community and people know it. What gets me is all the Christian jargon in some of the ads. People who are un-churched don't have any clue what they're talking about.

Mama of 2 said...

I agree with having the church thing backwards. I will admit to being a bit disenchanted with my church at the moment. I have attended it my entire life and love the programs it offers for the children (all ages) but for adults(my age says late 20's to mid 40's) I think it's lacking so I find myself feeling disconnected.

While I most definitely believe in God and that he has a plan for us what I personally need more of is how to take what I read in the bible and apply it to the world that now surrounds us -- maybe that's not something that is realistic really but that's what I think I need.

So come fall when Sunday School starts up again I will be in sitting in the pew hoping that I find what I need to put more faith back into my life.

Bttrfly1976 said...

I couldn't agree more! I was going through this same type of curiousness with the direction of today's church as I drove around today. We wouldn't know what to do with an Acts 2 church, I don't think.

Everyday Mommy said... you have any idea the can of worms you've opened here? Especially since you're right on the mark, dead center?

Check out the lengthy discussion on the question "Are we doing church all wrong?" in my archives.

The western church is in desperate trouble and most folks have no idea that, in fact, we're on a sinking ship.

novaks8 said...

Maybe their hope is that when you get in the church, the spirit will fill you.

The Methodist church has a huge campaign going right now to gain new members.

dcrmom said...

Oh don't even get me started. So much for going to church to *gasp* worship God. As far as reaching the unchurched, isn't that *our* job, the believers, to invite our friends to church with us?? GAH! On my way to read Everyday Mommy's archived post she referred to.

Jen said...

Interesting post. I came here off of a link from another blog off a link from yet another blog.

Even we as Christians are out for ourselves...and anyone who says they are not selfish is well...not telling the truth. I think it is part of our human nature- selfishness. But that doesn't mean that is how we as a church should be. I agree with you.

Everyday Mommy said...

I've done a leap frog off of this post to begin a discuss entitled "What Is the Plumb Line?"

Mom2fur said...

Honestly, if you don't give the beggar (sp?) his meal first, he isn't going to be in any shape to hear the Bible. But I do think advertising a church is 'weird.'

humpty said...

A hot meal and some genuine love.

thebarefootpoet said...

Wow, killer post! My mind is racing with thoughts. Let me establish something that is core to what I believe:
When you give the beggar a hot meal you give him the Bible, a small, living piece of God's word lived out. So the answer to the last question is yes.

Something that is circulating in my mind is this seeming tendency to want to separate Word and action. We call to task the Church for preaching instead of doing, which is deserved. If we separate them the other direction, we focus on the action without speaking truth, are we not guilty of the same thing? I think what we see in Jesus is the seamless combination of speaking truth and living out truth.

If I read your post correctly, the concept of advertising is not your real gripe, it's substituting being "in the world" with "advertise to the world". Substituting "go ye therefore" with "please come in here where it's clean and sin-free". I'm okay with letting the world know who and where you are with a couple of stipulations. First, this is not a substitute for going out. Second, don't call the world to churchianity, offer hope. Use language that makes sense. And by all means don't sucker punch people, if they respond and come offer life giving truth.

What an amazing, thought provoking post, dear lady!

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail right on the head. This has been on my heart for a while now. Is the whole way we do "church" outdated?

We've focused so much on educating the church which was exactly the right thing to do in response to the enlightenment up through probably 20 years ago. But now our culture is more like the first century church. We need to be followers of Christ and focus on self-sacrafice and love. We shoudl not trade our knowledge action, but in our culture we must first demonstrate love before we are given the platform to "tell" why Jesus is the way.

I might also add to some of the comments above. A lesson I'm learning is that if you feel disenchanted don't look first to change your church. Instead take this as the Holy Spirit's que to change yourself. Get involved in helping others. Find a soup kitchen, women's shelter, mission, or whatever is on your heart. Get off the pew and into the street.

Anonymous said...

If you can meet someone's teporal needs (i.e. hot meal, clean clothes, etc.), God's already let you meet some of that persons spiritual needs. He won't equip you to do one without being able to meet the other as well. Granted, there are people out there that will take advantage of Christian hospitality, but don't let those circumstances distract you from your mission of "helping someone to Christ". You may just be the last person they have contact with.

Yes, I believe that we've got this thing ALL backwards. We go to God's house (not ours) to seek Him (not us) and worship Him (not what we can do). I find this in my own church. Hubby and I are the Youth Directors. Unfortunately, we have the daunting task of trying to teach (more like show) that there's more to church than us coming in, setting in a pew, singing songs, and hearing someone get up and talk. I've prayed very hard for our pastor to get "plugged in". We've thought about using some video teaching tools on this. There's a very good video at It's called "The Me Church". The "That's My King" video is awesome!!! That would get you into perspective.

Anonymous said...

This pops my nerves! People are trying to change what the church is supposed to be. Church is meant to be a place to worship God and dwell on His word. NOT a place to say "God gimme this and God gimme that" because that's not the way He works. We do for Him, when the time is right, He does for us. Church is not a trend. Please don't treat it that way. =) By the way... is an awesome site to check out.

Anonymous said...

Churches that advertise aren't there for God but they ARE really successful social clubs.

At the same time, I don't Jesus ever suggested meeting someone's physical needs without also seeking to meet their spiritual need -- and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Man you're soo cool. I was reading all of your posts that I've missed lately and this one just topped it off! Your views on religion and God are what I crave to hear but almost noone thinks or sees it that way. It's become too much of a show for one another or a check list or a status. What happened to love and kindness and all of us being children of God? Thanks. I needed to hear that! Oh and I loved your shower story! Ha! Sounds like my life! You rock!

Christina said...

I once tried a church here that offered all kinds of cool stuff, but it wasn't for me. Sometimes my kids will say why don't we ever go to the church with the platstaion and tv anymore. I just say "we are not at church to play video games." They just look at me like I have two heads thinking "why not?"