As a pastor, I try to balance what we do as a church to be “attractional” and “missional.” What are we doing to see people drawn to our worship services and ultimately to Christ? And what are we doing to equip and launch people into the mission of Jesus?
Some churches swing the pendulum to one extreme or the other, but shouldn’t we be doing both? And shouldn’t we do them well? We should worship with excellence in a way that connects with the unchurched, and we should disciple people with excellence so they are on mission with Jesus.
What we don’t want and what we should be leery of is to be a “Consumer Church,” as described like the following:
*Church is more about what I get out of it than what I put into it.
*Church is about what I like not what I do.
*Church shopping (and hopping) becomes the norm.
*Church is like sitting in the stands critiquing the game rather than being on the field in the game.
*Church is about being fed rather than learning how to feed myself.
*Church is about preference more than mission.
*Church is about my needs rather than the world’s needs.
*Church is a place to receive services, not a family where I belong.
These descriptions reflect the rise of what I call “Smorgasbord Christianity.” Here’s how this affects a typical “church-going” family: “I like the way the preacher at First Church preaches, so I go there every other Sunday, but I like the music in Second Church, so I go there on the off Sundays. My kids like the youth program at Third Church, so I drop them off there, while my wife likes the teaching in a women’s Bible study of Fourth Church, so she goes over there.”
And all the while, the children never see “church” as a place to belong . . . as a family . . . on mission with others . . . for Jesus Christ.
How does the New Testament describe a church? Not a place centered on programs, preferences or personalities. The church is a “household of God” (Ephesians 3:19); a “holy temple” (Ephesians 3:21—not a building, but the people are the temple); a “dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:22); the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27); and a “family” (1 Peter 2:17).
I’m convinced that the more we make Christianity something we consume, like a smorgasbord, the less we connect in deep, meaningful relationships as a spiritual family. Wherever you “attend” church, make it a place where you—and your family—get rooted in relationships, established in the faith, and equipped to serve. Turn church hopping into church helping. Make your church the kind of church you WANT to be part of instead of looking for the next church flavor of the month. And I guarantee you will find a deeper joy as you walk with others on this journey of faith.