A recent AdAge article discussed the “clutter” of advertising. Basically, the idea is that there is an overwhelming amount of commercial messages consumers are faced with on a daily basis – estimates range from 254 to 5,000 messages per person, per day. This barrage is decreasing consumer awareness and increasing consumer frustration.
So far, the industry’s solution has been to increase the number of messages, but in non-traditional, sexy new forms – video games, cell phones and the world wide internet to name a few. This has only led to more clutter, and obviously more frustration.
I thought of the church while reading this article. Right now there are roughly 1,456,383 churches right here in America. (I actually made that number up. I have no idea how many there are, but I’m guessing it’s a lot.) Today, many people are beginning to recognize that there is something wrong with the modern church and what’s their solution? Start a new church or even a new non-denominational denomination.
I posit that what America needs is not more churches, but more Christ-followers. We don’t need new congregations sprouting up with increasingly more dynamic/loud/contemplative worship, flashier children’s programs or bigger buildings. We need more people committing to follow the way of Jesus.
I’m not going to pretend to have a solution or a step-by-step guide on how to make this happen, but I would like to start the conversation. So here are some thoughts:
- Start emphasizing the cost of discipleship. We have made the way of Jesus easy, consumable and free. I fear we’ve lost sight of the call to “take up our cross daily.” We’ve invited people into a relationship, but haven’t asked for any reciprocal commitment from them. Sure, the grace of Jesus is free, but following Him is supposed to cost us everything we have!
- Stop focusing solely on Sunday. Sunday morning is an important time for the saints to gather in one place to encourage one another and reflect on what God has done. However, that is not solely what the church is. It is one, relatively small piece of what a church should be about. I believe we should spend less time, money and energy on Sundays and more on the other days of the week – when and where the kingdom-work really happens.
- Stop limiting what worship can/should be. Worship is more than singing, praying and definitely preaching. While I question whether or not we are “made to worship” (thanks to cb – more on that in another post, maybe), I believe we should view most, if not all, of our activities as worship to God. When I help change someone’s tire on the side of the road, make sandwiches and share them with people who are hungry or simply sit and talk with people who are lonely, I’m expressing my devotion to God – I’m worshiping. Perhaps, if we can maintain a high view of worship while recognizing that our lives are worship, we can slowly begin deemphasizing going to church on Sundays and begin emphasizing living like Jesus all the time.
Those are just some initial thoughts. What comes to mind for you?