The Good News: People want what churches offer!
The Bad News: They don’t want it from churches.
Recently, I read a book by Gil Rendle called, “Quietly Courageous: Leading the Church in a Changing World.” In the second chapter, Rendle talks of two Harvard Seminary students studying the ever-coveted Millennial generation and what they want that the church might offer.
The study found most Millennials are searching for the following:
- Personal Transformation
- Social Transformation
- Purpose Finding
- Something More (God or a deeper meaning to life)
At first glance, as church leaders, we think, “THIS IS GREAT! WE PROVIDE ALL OF THESE THINGS!”
Plot twist! They don’t want any of these things from churches.
People don’t trust churches anymore. Being a pastor is more of a liability to your credibility than a boost.
In our current culture, the church is seen as exclusionary, wasteful (misusing donations), hateful, bigoted, dishonest, and more.
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the Southern Baptists attack the Methodists for “caving to liberal theology” (seeking full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons) and the Methodists attack the Southern Baptists for a huge cover-up of sexual assault allegations across the country. Both claiming the moral and theological high ground; acting as if each were sinless.
A story about a speck or plank in an eye comes to mind…
Add to that the years of child abuse uncovered in the Catholic church in recent decades…the church doesn’t look too good to those outside our walls.
While we’re out here attacking each other (rightfully or not), the outside world is looking on with disgust at all “sides” of Christianity. They can’t figure out why anyone would want to be a part of our faith, let alone our individual congregations.
Even if we offer EXACTLY what people are looking for in life, they don’t want it from us. They’re happy to find it in other places.
Often, we think just being a church gives us the credibility to draw people in and speak into their lives. We think putting our brand of “theology” on display will touch the hearts of thousands in our community.
No one is listening.
People far from God don’t know they need God. So, when we put our “churchness” out there or wave our theology flag (whichever flag we deem “correct”) they just ignore us.
The church won’t be relevant again until we realize no one is coming. We have to go to them. Not just with our “churchness,” but with the realization that we have nothing to offer but ourselves, individually, to try and make a relationship and a lasting difference to those that need us in our community.
It is only after we’ve built those relationships and shown we’re not just interested in growing our church, but in them as people, they will trust us enough to listen to our message.
Where are you seeing your church miss the mark?
Where is your church making a lasting impact in your community?
I would LOVE to hear your stories! Let’s learn from each other.