Four “Church Questions” That Have Reached Their Sell-By Date…
There are ways we talk in church that exist largely unchallenged. They are part of the “background wallpaper” of churches. However, as our context for ministry changes so rapidly, it’s time to examine these more closely. Last week we took up “Where do you go to church?”
Week 2: Will This…Bright, Shiny New Thing…Get Us New Members?
The challenge of this begins with “members.” Membership means so many different things – or it lacks meaning – for people in different social or generational places. Membership can help us understand belonging, commitment, or identity. But increasingly, “member” is losing its deeper understanding in church life. Anything that is assumed in church life is dangerous. We tend to have too many assumptions around the term “member.” This is begging for a serious conversation among those of us in church.
But beyond that, we can’t do ministry to “get something.” Ministry has always been–but is now more than ever a relational endeavor—beginning with God’s relationship with us. The question “will this get us new members?” is transactional – we do something to attain something. (Marinating in consumer culture makes it easy to think that way.). Transactional ministry is aimed at keeping the “church machine” running. There is a risk in sitting before a church board, a congregation, or a finance committee to suggest that a risky new ministry or outreach that may not “yield anything tangible.” Increasingly, however, this is where ministry is flourishing.
We are to give ourselves away for the life of the world. That is Jesus’ model for the church. This is a season where everything we have assumed needs re-examination and careful sorting. Are we ready to offer life to the world without expecting anything in return?
What is God doing next?