It seems an epidemic right now: the churches in our area are really struggling to get people to BE the church. I am not talking about signing membership papers because I don’t really care about that myself. The Bible never mentions this being a part of church life. What I am talking about is involvement, emotional investment…being the body of Christ. A body with parts that doesn’t communicate or would rather be somewhere else isn’t much of a body.
Why is this? One answer I have received was that we are in the End Times. I was told that I really need worry only when people flock to the church. Ok. Maybe… But I think this answer is just too pat, too easy. It is a nice answer to give because it removes all responsibility from our shoulders. Eh, end times, waddaya goin’ to do?
But that isn’t the whole picture. There ARE Christians out there. The lack of church attendance does not accurately reflect the number of Christians. So, why are Christians not coming together as the body of Christ?
This is my random thought theory postulating one factor. I think there is not currently a lot of room in church meetings for people to work within their own gifts. Think about what happens at a typical gathering: there is the set up, the music, the technical stuff in the back (if your church has PowerPoint and a screen and a sound system), there is the sermon and possibly snacks, then everyone cleans up and goes home. If you have such a church, a prayer ministry and children’s ministry may fit into the day, as well. So, we are talking about the gift of helps or service for the set-up and clean-up. One or two might be privileged enough to be trusted with the expensive performance equipment. Children’s ministry is always looking for new workers, regardless of gifting. Only an elite few get to sermonize. There is the music team and people in charge of food.
Is that everyone? What about people with other passions and gifts? Do those in charge even know what the gifts and interests of the people are? Does it matter? Often, there is simply no place for them. So, people go to church just to be good. It is the right thing to do. It saves them from guilt. But they have to go somewhere else to be themselves.
And that is the crux. I go hear to be good, and go here to be me. There is what initially may be an unintentional and unrecognized separation there. “Me” and “good” are different. Talk about guilt!! And resentment. The church seems to separate me from being good?! Why invest in that?