this whole “church as a business entity” concept drives me a tad bonkers. the focus on the target audience. the snazzy social media plan. the marketing. i know some of it is necessary. things need to be structured. you need to communicate. you want to do things excellently. but is all that really necessary?
maybe i am being naive or simple but shouldn’t the focus be on building up the Christ followers? teaching and equipping them for service. after all, the church is people.
remember the account of the early church in the book of acts? the followers of Christ went city to city sharing Christ with people. the message of the gospel was compelling and edgy and it drew a crowd. and when folks believed, they began to more formally gather together to talk about it and learn more. to grow and encourage and pray and worship.
the fastest growing religions in the world do not explode because their services are top-notch with the latest and greatest. they aren’t the coolest. it isn’t because of the band or the tech or the branding. it isn’t because the setup is super hip and trendy. it is because of the followers. the people. grow the people, grow the church, grow the religion. not the other way around. the point is not to try to draw more attention to a religion or a building or a particular denomination…the point is to draw more attention to Christ. Christ is the only true and appropriate focus.
we have to get over this idea that if we just this or that, we will reach everyone. we will attract our target audience. we will draw them in and win them over. Christ draws. Christ wins. Christ changes hearts. and He works in people. these people go out and live in a way that is attractive. living in a manner that looks different than the norm of this world. sure, they might dress like hipsters or listen to vinyl or drink local brew with their buddies and that’s okay…but that cool stuff does not make the gospel cool. what we do or listen to or wear does not make Christ appealing. Christ in us makes us appealing. Christ in us is different and attractive. and that is what interests folks. that is what makes people say, “i want some of that”. that is what makes people want to walk through the doors of a church. they don’t want to see the church versions of wordily things. they aren’t looking for a show or a concert or a feel-good joint. they don’t want more of the world. if they wanted more of the world, they know where to find that. the world serves up plenty of that stuff on the regular, in varying forms. they want something else. they want Christ.
people will be reached by the Christ followers that we build up in our churches. churches are not to be focused on attracting potential Christ followers. churches don’t need to focus on marketing Jesus properly and advertising the gospel. we don’t need to point to features and benefits of a product. the church is a service-based entity. the church serves the needs of the people. the church serves the needs of the community. and the needs of the people and the community have nothing to do with worship style or the pastor’s apparel or the coolness of a website. people need Jesus. communities need Jesus. churches are to point people to Jesus. talk about Jesus. be about Jesus. it is a gathering of Christ followers looking for more of Christ. wanting to get closer and closer. wanting to look more and more like Christ. and the more we look like Christ, the more people are attracted to us, and thus, attracted to the church.
ekklesia is about Christ. it is the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”. (1 Peter 2:9) the called out ones are called to congregate. to pray and listen and encourage and worship. we then go out and share what Christ has done. we proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. we step into the dark and proclaim what Christ has done. we talk about the marvelous light. and when the Spirit draws and the scales fall from the eyes and the heart is softened toward the things of God…when the Heavenly and preordained work is accomplished, when salvation occurs, that person joins the ekklesia. they are nurtured and given an earthly place to call home as they sojourn to their ultimate home in Heaven. this is the church.