a failure to communicate

So, I read this today…

“Many church members feel they have been sold a bill of goods.  They were promised that if they would be a good church member, if they would discover their gifts, or join a small group, sign up for a church ministry, give to the building program, learn to clap or dance in worship, or attend this or that, they would experience a full and meaningful life.  Trouble is, we don’t have much evidence to support the assumption that all this church activity has produced more mature followers of Jesus.  It has produced many tired, burned-out members who find that their lives mimic the lives and dilemmas of people in the culture who don’t pay all the church rent.”

…and I had one of those “mmm” moments.  You know – when you read or hear something that you deeply resonate with, and you say, “mmm” and then grab your pen or highlighter.

I resonate with it, because I’ve found more and more that as we invite (and even plead) with people to take ownership in the community of faith (whether that’s through financial giving, or volunteering, or leading, or doing life with, etc.), all people really hear is, “Please make this institution successful”.

And it’s not what we’re saying.

Well, it’s not what we mean to say.  It’s not the intent behind our words.  There’s been a failure to communicate.

So what are we trying to say?

Well, for starters, we’re saying that the goal isn’t to get people to church.  The goal is to get people to Jesus.  We’re not saying the goal is to get people to buy in and own the organization; we’re saying we want them along on the journey, owning their faith in such as way, that when others see them, they see Jesus.  We’re not saying that we want people to add church activities to their lives; we’re saying we want Life to be added to their activities.

So here’s what I’m working on: words that make sense.  I’m praying for the ability to say what it is we actually mean, and for that message to not get drowned out by decades of the church’s self-perpetuating hullabaloo that has people convinced that all the church cares about is the church.

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