Monday, August 13, 2012

Why would anyone want to attend your church?

This is a question I often ask pastor search committees and other church leadership groups when they ask me to assist them in some aspect of their ministries.  It's a question that sometimes is not very well appreciated.  In fact, some have been almost insulted when I've asked it.  I try to explain that the reason I ask it is that because in most parts of the US there are numerous churches people can attend.  In fact, the people who attend one church may have driven past a dozen or more churches to get to the one they attended.  My question is why they would do that.

Because of my work as a judicatory minister I am often in a different church every week.  I can go for many weeks and never experience anything different regardless of which church I attend.  If the only thing I want to do is to be able to check "Go to church" off my to-do list I might as well go to the one closest to my home if they are all going to offer the same thing week after week.  That way I can get my obligation to God out of the way, save some gas, and get back home sooner to enjoy my Sunday afternoon.

If churches, especially smaller churches, want to stand out from the crowd they have to have a better than average grasp on their mission as a church.  Too many take a shotgun approach to ministry hoping that if they offer enough different things that something will appeal to somebody.  What they end up with is a number of ministries they do not have the resources to do well and that really appeal to no one.  Larger churches can offer numerous ministries because they enjoy more resources, both money and people.  Smaller churches will find they can actually accomplish more by doing less but doing what they do with excellence.  For many of these churches that will mean that they may only be able to offer two or three ministries, and for some it may reduce that number down to only one.  But, that's OK if that one is the mission God has given you.

The answer to my question of why anyone would want to attend your church is "because you offer a ministry through which God speaks to their deepest needs.  You are providing an excellent ministry that really addresses the issues they have in their lives." ( The Healthy Community, 53)

This answer means that you are not going to reach everyone because you will not be able to address every issue people have in their lives.  That's OK, it's why God has more than one church in your community.  The mission God has given you is to reach those you can with the ministry He has given your church.

In tomorrow's post I will explain the difference between mission and vision and why every church will have a unique vision that will be different from the churches around them.  In the meantime be thinking about what one or two ministries your church could do with excellence and the difference those ministries might make in your communities.

No comments: