In his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin talks about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer.
What does the average person think of the people who week in and week out file into a church building to meet for a few hours then go home only to do the same thing the following week?
Does the ritualistic activity have any bearing on those who are not a member of that organization? Does that person even notice anymore that the organization exists?
I have attended church for as long as I can remember. And, I have been a “member” of several churches over the years, even served on staff of some. Sadly, I report that most, if not all, of them tried their best to keep things as they are resisting any kind of change that might cause harm to the organization.
What happens is that the church becomes rigid, afraid of upsetting the status quo, becoming full of members who “criticize, point out what is wrong, or just whine.”
The church has to be the protector of truth while being an agent of change
Before some of my peers begin calling me a liberal or even worse a heretic, let me say that I believe that there are some immutable Truths about Christianity.
These include the deity of Jesus Christ, the Virgin birth, the Trinity, and our need for a Savior who is Jesus Christ alone.
What I am saying is that if the church is afraid to change in the way it relates to the society around it, then the church will become irrelevant and without influence.
God intends His church to be an agent of change. And for that to happen the church needs to change the way it communicates and relates to the society in which it exists.
Here in America, the days of the average person feeling guilt for not attending church on Sundays or at least Easter and Christmas are just about over. Along with that the church no longer occupies a place of authoritative influence on the culture as a whole.
To put it bluntly, a growing amount of people don’t give what the church thinks on a subject any consideration.
And if a person does look to the church to get its insight on life, that information is too easily lost in a sea of information. Gone are the days where a preacher or Bible study teacher can claim authority on a subject because they are the scholar or one who studied the subject or scripture.
Access to immediate information reduces the need or existence of one or few owning the truth
Nowadays while someone is preaching or teaching listeners are googling in real time to check the accuracy of the information. For a leader of a church who is used to head-nodding submission, this is understandably threatening.
So we have a choice. We can as church leaders fight the change to keep things as they are. Or we can learn to adapt and embrace the way people explore, learn, make decisions, and follow.
I contend that we need to create a safer place for people to explore, along with other sojourners, what they believe about God and who He is. Too often teachers and preachers discourage questions that challenge authority, truth, and tradition.
The most common question from our modern day culture is, “Why?” We need to be ok with that question, and in fact encourage it.
Granted this is a messier way to lead, but what it does produce is true Christ followers and disciples instead of members of an organization participating more out of obligation and not passion.
Also, we just might lose some big name personalities and big money programs that tend to grab the spotlight.
Hmm…isn’t that spotlight reserved for Someone who deserves that glory?