What Price Are We Willing To Pay?
Dear friends and family of Hilton Baptist Church,
I recently read an article online about a church that is trying a new approach in attracting new people. I honestly did not know if I could believe what I was reading. Yet there are many things in this world that continue to surprise me and I find myself asking “That can’t really be true. Can it?” only to later discover that what I thought could not be true was, in fact, true. This article gave me the same feeling of disbelief as well as concern that it might truly be accurate.
According to this article, a church in North Carolina has been experiencing a decline in their Sunday morning attendance. They also find themselves in debt due to a building project they completed five years ago. A pastor at the church said, “We’re a church, and like any business, we have a bottom line. We’ve got to get more giving units in here, and to do that, we are going to give customers what they want – which is not God.”
Therefore, the church has decided to remove all references to God during their Sunday services, group studies, and printed materials. Instead the church will focus on issues that are more attractive to outsiders. Issues such as sports, health, self-improvement and positive thinking.
Now if you are experiencing as much shock and disbelief as I was, do not be alarmed. This story was found on a website called Babylonbee.com which is a Christian satire site. Basically, they are having a little fun at creating ridiculous stories hoping we will find the humor in them as well.
However, this led me to some thinking. What must a church do to be attractive to outsiders and what price should it be willing to pay?
The above article is not a true story but this is. I once served a church that needed some repair in its entry way. It would cost a little money, but it wasn’t going to break the bank. I explained to the church board that this entry way was the first impression people would have of our church.
I asked what message we were sending to visitors and young families as they entered the church and saw paint and plaster hanging off the walls. I challenged them to consider if this was the first impression they wanted to give anyone visiting our beloved church. After all, and some of you may have grown tired of hearing this… “In the church, everything says something about you!”
One woman on the church board had been a member of that church since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Her demeanor was also about as pleasant as a grumpy crocodile. As I led the discussion on some repairs this woman was fervently against spending the money. Realizing the conversation was not going in the direction she wanted, she exclaimed in frustration “If people don’t like the way our church looks they can just sit out in the parking lot and read their Bibles!”
Ouch and wow. I have no ulterior motives in sharing these stories with you but I leave you with this thought as well as a question: In the church, everything says something. What must our church do to be attractive to outsiders and what price are we willing to pay?
Grace and Peace,