An old Chinese Proverb says, "A bird does not sing because it has an answer--it sings because it has a song." Last month I wrote about one reason that some people do not trust the church is because their lack of trust in business carries over. In order to address this for people outside of the church, I try to have meetings with people in various places throughout the community. The last time I met with someone at the church building one-on-one, they told me it felt like they were going to an interview. The conversation we had was affected greatly by the environment. There are still definite times that I meet with people at the church building for convenience, if I don’t know them, or if it is someone from the church that is used to meeting there. If we are serious about bridging the gap between people in the church and people outside of the church, we must take their feelings into account about how we do ministry. I have gone to many conferences that have pastors telling us why people don’t like church, but I prefer to ask people that don’t go to church why they don’t. There are many easy things we can do to take barriers away between people and the church. I believe very strongly that the church is God’s hands and feet in this world, the body of Christ. The church is very important to the Kingdom of God and it is important to me to make it as easily accessible to all kinds of people as it can be. We have the unusual and unique blessing of having three different pastors at St. John’s with different passions and from three different generations. We all do different things and respond to God in different ways so that we can maximize how St. John’s is participating in the Kingdom of God. We are also leading the church in different areas and in different ways so that St. John’s can be a church that God is using to transform lives abundantly, including our own.
People’s schedules are another barrier between themselves and church sometimes. One of our core values at St. John’s is to worship together weekly. If your lifestyle prevents you from being at the church building from anytime between 8 and 11 on Sunday mornings, then this is going to be very difficult for you. When we invite people to come to church, we are telling them that their lifestyle has to fit our schedule first... and then they can come to church and be transformed. People have to already be dedicated enough to church to change their job schedule or other things around in order to come to church. Does that sound backwards to anyone besides me? We want them to come and experience God in our worship services, but often it doesn’t fit in to the lifestyle they already have. This is a major issue that I have been working on in various ways. The first and most obvious way is that we are starting a “Contemporary” Saturday evening service in the Fall. Our first services will begin at 6pm in the Summer on June 20th, July 11th, and August 8th. They will begin weekly in September. It is very important that we have a good group of people that are committed to coming to these for the first year so that we will always have “critical mass.” If you can commit to being there regularly, please let me know. The service will be similar to our 9:30am Sunday service, but will be more family oriented and more edgy at the same time. We hope that this service will appeal to people that don’t currently have a church community that they are a part of and much of what we do will have these kinds of people in mind. This is an amazing way that St. John’s is sharing the love of Christ with an increasing amount of people. I have other things up my sleeve as well that you will be hearing about in the next couple of months. Shalom!