I was talking to a friend the other day and he was telling me how he and his wife had been considering changing churches (this isn’t about Heritage, where I pastor). Part of the attraction to the new place was the quality of coffee and pastries that were available in the lobby. That wasn’t the main thing, but it was a thing that came up in the middle of the discussion.
In many instances, church has become a competitive effort to welcome guests. Those guests, as often as not, are considering changing churches more than they are considering attending a church for the first time or first time in a while. There is nothing inherently wrong with a coffee shop. There is also nothing inherently wrong with branding, marketing, programming or other efforts to draw people in. There is nothing wrong with it as long as it doesn’t become a club.
There is only one authority grant and it is in Matthew 28. That is the commissioning to “go” and make disciples. If we are sending people from churches and not just attempting to bring them into church buildings, then we are operating in the authority of Jesus. Otherwise, we are just managing a club.
If you are attending a church for reasons other than encounter, equipping and encouragement to ultimately go and reproduce yourself then there is likely a void of authority in your faith. Encountering God in a Spirit to spirit connection, equipping through teaching and ministry and encouragement through relationships refreshes us to go give it away. Going and giving it away then requires regular re-filling, but not re-filling of coffee and donuts.
There is no authority for programs, services, events or gatherings unless those things facilitate disciple making. Disciple making includes the building up of you and me to go and make others. We are transformed by encounter, matured through equipping and encouraged by relationships to be about the purpose of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is designed and desirous to advance and advance requires a collision with the other kingdoms of the world. The other kingdoms of the world don’t come for coffee. They are out there in dark places, market places and neighborhood places. Darkness has shades of gray in its presentation but a complete void of light in its reality. That void often won’t attend your programs but it is desperate for the Light within you.
Church is a pit stop, not a destination. The church is on the move, not in a huddle. The target is out there, not in here.