Jeff Christopherson writes an article in Christianity Today that is pointing in the right direction. You can read the full article here: When Culture Tilts Away from your Church.
Here are some highlights:
Thinking differently can be difficult. Our ruts testify to our staggering preferences for the familiar. Even if they slow us down to a creeping clamber, they’re ‘our ruts,’ and we prefer what we know.
But at some point, in our crawl, some of us look up and around and ask, “Is this familiar path that I’m traveling taking me where I need to go?”
...Few among us believe that we are still in the “golden age” of church growth, yet many of our systems are still calibrated with methodologies designed for a previous era. We prioritize launching worship experiences which bake in the preeminent consumeristic value of excellence with the principal metric of attendance...
When culture is tilted toward the church, we instinctively know what to do. We position ourselves as a preferred, or at least viable alternative. We welcome them in with a warm and sincere greeting. Hand them a nice gift bag with a quality T-shirt and a mug. Invite them to a casual meet and greet with the pastor. And get them to sign up for the new member’s class.
Its muscle memory for most of us.
But what happens when the culture is tilted away from the church? What do we do when there are only social disadvantages to our evangelical ties? What do we do when our golden era techniques no longer have an attraction?
Make no mistake, this is the current reality of our mission field.
But to that difficult question, there is some very good news. Much of the disciple-making within the majority world, and numerous immigrant and inner-city churches within North America, and the entirety of the book of Acts embodies three priorities that appear to be alien to our “golden-age” thinking – but serves as living proof to the Jesus-way of his community.
From here, Christopherson outlines three priorities the first of which is this:
We need a different kind of church. Rather than a hyper-focus on the gathering, we must prioritize equipping people for a disciple-making movement. Disciple-making is the goal, not a hopeful byproduct of the gathering. By decreasing our focus on the gatherings as an end, we now have the margin to increase our effort to make disciples who live vibrantly sent lives. We are no longer a church of the intentionally gathered and unintentionally scattered – but of the gathered and intentionally deployed.
Amen. This paragraph alone is worth reading the article for. Again, you can read the entire article here.