Saturday, August 23, 2008

What Makes People Run?

I visit the website Church Marketing Sucks from time to time. Contrary to how it sounds, they've got some real insightful articles over there about how the church needs to be the Church.

In a recent article here, guest writer Bob Lotich writes about what makes people run from a church. Here are his top five with my comments:
  1. When everything is mediocre – The word "Christian" is often used by some non-Christians as a word that means "mediocre." That is sad and it is wrong. If there is anything I know about God, He is not mediocre nor does He do anything that is not excellent. Simply take a look at this universe, this planet, or your very intricate, beautifully formed body - it is His excellent creation. He would not be glorified by anything less. The church should not settle for mediocre either.
  2. When a place is full of strife – I recently heard it said that of all places, the Church should be a safe place. Whether that is true or not, I can say that many churches are not safe. I have experienced more (or at least the same amount of) self-agendas, back-biting, hardship in churches than I have in many secular workplaces. Certainly the Church is called to be different.
  3. When there is an unwillingness to adapt – I'm not talking about the unchanging truths of the Gospel, I'm talking about wineskins here. In a world where most organizations are just barely keeping relevant to the world around them, many churches actually take pride in being irrelevant.
  4. When the goal is to tickle ears – While this conjures up thoughts of a watered-down Gospel, it is really much more than that. People need to be challenged in their faith journey. As Mark Batterson says, Jesus didn't die on the cross to make us safe, He died to make us dangerous. We are each meant to live a life of spiritual adventure planned for us by God. But many times, churches are too busy tickling the ears of the congregates, the tithers, the elders, or the established church-goers - when we should be listening to and following the vision of God Himself.
  5. When there is no passion in leadership — Having passion gets a bad rap sometimes. It can get you into trouble - and without spiritual discernment, it should. But we must remember that Jesus was passionate. He was passionate when He cried for Jerusalem. He was passionate when He overturned tables in the temple. His obedience upon the cross is even called "the passion of Jesus Christ." At the same time, there are leaders who repeat the truths of God as though they were just words off a page. When God's truth rocks your world and changes your life, it births true passion in your soul that is like a fire that cannot be contained.
When I see things like this in our churches, my heart breaks. I want to tell people to run as far and as fast as they can to a life-giving, Christ-centered community.

So, let me ask you. What has Bob left out? Are there some other things that should make people run? Why don't you add to the conversation here and leave a comment...