I don’t like being uncomfortable and I am guessing you don’t either. I don’t like mosquito bites and many other irritants. But when I get past my selfish pet peeves there are lots of more important things that make me uncomfortable about eternal things and Christians. So here is a bit of a rant. Maybe some of these items make you feel uncomfortable too.
It is very rare to arrive at a church incognito and have anyone other than the greeter at the door say hello let alone show any interest. It is not like I care for my own sake. But I know that sometimes people come through the door for the first time looking for something that connects them to eternity through people. I know they get ignored more often than not.
But the really big thing that makes me uncomfortable is that when I walk in carryingAll three problems make me uncomfortable because I am confident they make my Lord uncomfortable. my black Bible and they are expecting a guest speaker, they roll out the red carpet. Apparently, I am only valuable when I have something to offer. James observed on the same theme. (James 2:1-4) It s not a new problem but it still is an uncomfortable truth in the churches I visit. And I usually find that when I tell that story the person I am talking to says “not my church.” Oh yes, your church too. Do I have to show up unannounced with my spycam to prove it to you?
It seems that only the people who have a particular job for a Sunday meeting are the ones who can arrive on time. I feel like I could add “any more” but maybe this has always been a problem. Church is supposed to be an experience where participants enjoy and strengthen the reciprocal nature of relationships. Working on relationships is for everyone in church.
You are always late if you aren’t there in time to fulfill the Christian responsibility to greet each other. But the only people in the building on time are moving chairs, adjusting sound and video equipment or running around doing last-minute preparations for children’s ministry. If anyone were to arrive at a reasonable hour for the first time and see an empty auditorium they would feel very awkward being the first to sit down. It happens all the time.
You are late if you are not hanging around 15 minutes before the start time. You should be hanging around silently asking the Lord to give you some significant conversations with someone who needs you. That person may be someone who is there for the first time. Don’t be late for that conversation. It really bothers me how few take up such assignments.
When I get the chance I like to ask the congregation by show of hands how many are in each of three categories. Not necessarily in the current church.
- You always attended church because you grew up there.
- Someone invited you to church and you attended for the first time.
- You just showed up on your own because you saw some advertising or just walked in without a personal invitation.
Normally and at best I get about 50/50 in categories 1 and 2 but only a smattering from category 3. Sometimes there is a 75/25 split in the first two categories.
Now think about that. We used to sing “Bringing in the Sheaves” then we graduated to “People Need the Lord” now we sing something else. But if over a lifetime every believer brought only one person to church we couldn’t do worse than 50/50. Even if each believer on average brought one person every decade most people in church would be there because somebody brought them. It is really good that those who grew up in church are still in church. But it is really bad that on average we can’t get to one new person in a lifetime.
Anyone who invites enough Friends, Relatives, Associates or Neighbours to church often enough will surely get more than two in a lifetime who come and stay. It upsets me that most people don’t even try.
I’m out to change all that in as many churches as I can. All three problems make me uncomfortable because I am confident they make my Lord uncomfortable.
If you want to help change the world with me start by getting your hands on the practical tools I have initiated. The one I am excited about right now is The John Challenge. Check it out. Help me get the production done and spread it through your church.
This all makes me itchier than a thousand mosquito bites. How about you?