The way that we do things can be indicators of the reason we are doing them. The reasons we do things matter and sometimes the reasons are more important than the outcome. More than the result, I’m pleased with the way and the reasons for the way we are engaging in the coffee shop that I wrote about here.
I am a pastor at a local church and that church is supportive of the effort at the coffee shop conceptually and also financially. They are willing to invest in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. The best part, however, is that they are willing to do so without being the marquee player. They are willing to share the stage without competition, insecurity or posturing for gain.
I need to be out-of-town this weekend and a pastor from a different church will be leading the coffee shop. That other church is the church that provided the worship leader last week. The other pastor and I won’t be the only two people speaking over the life of this ministry nor will these be the only churches. We are looking to engage the city as the church of the city for the sake of the Kingdom of God and not the benefit of a club.
When Paul wrote his letters to the church, he wrote them to the city, not a particular denomination or trending mega church congregation. The church was a region, not an isolated institution. They weren’t competing for growth, they had the common goal of the Kingdom of God.
Unfortunately, we have been in an era where the church has been competitive even if that competition has been covert or unintentional. Where large buildings get built, large mortgages are attached. Where large mortgages have to be paid, there is large pressure to get people in the door to pay them. Attracting people who may be looking for a church means you have to present them a better option than a church down the street. That’s competition.
There are many problems with that, but one of the biggest is that it is worldly. There is no difference between that and business or even entertainment. People looking for a place to understand how to live in this world are seeking a God that supersedes this world and all too often they are engaged on the same level they seek to move beyond.
While this is often unnoticed, it is not as unknown as we might imagine. Church growth across the board is down. Could it be that there is no attraction to more of the same only re-packaged? Could it be that people are looking for the one true God and when we present them with Barnum and Bailey’s tactics instead of Jesus they intuitively reject the premise?