Is probably because your church largely doesn’t care to connect beyond its Christian culture. Today the overwhelming majority of churches are filled with lifelong Christians, and are largely incapable of connecting with anybody else. Is yours one of them? Here’s a simple test to find out.
One Measure to Reveal How Exclusive Your Church Is
In theory we love the neighborhood, in practice we do something else.
Here’s an illustration to use on any Sunday service. Have the entire congregation stand, then sit down individually when they hear their story.
First question, “who here has been a Christian for as long as they can remember (your entire life)?”
Most everyone will be seated.
“Who here came to faith as a kid?”
A few left standing will sit.
“Who among us came to Jesus as a teenager?”
A couple caught in a youth craze will sit.
Stats show that you can probably count those left standing at this point on one hand.
“Finally, who here found their faith as an adult (or if you’re really adventurous, came to faith as an adult in this church)?”
The result is a measure of a church’s function: exist to manage itself and its members, or exist for unfolding Kingdom in neighborhood and beyond. One is fundamentally insular and self-serving, the other is missional.
Most churches are vastly exclusive, only serving the needs of its parishioners alone (and many struggle with even this). Churches that are not key players in the city/neighborhood are fast tracked to a dwindling end. (The downward trend has been mitigated in contemporary evangelicalism because they’ve done exceedingly well catering to consumer Christianity and therefore continue to attract Christians at the expense of smaller churches.)
But even bigger well resourced churches face the same conundrum: struggling to tell a Gospel story in a language people beyond the brick walls can understand.
There’s no easy fix to escaping exclusive church culture either. The Sunday school answer is better discipleship, which is theory is right: challenge consumer Christianity and embrace meaningful and lasting relationships over superficial experiences.
Easier said than done.
The slow process of revitalizing a church that doesn’t exist largely for itself, I think, requires a fundamental culture shift to exist for and with the kinds of people Jesus cherished. When homogeneity is challenged hopefully the exclusivity veil will drop. Until then, it’ll be more birds of a feather flocking together.