I am 7 years into pastoring a church. I have a great wife, who is extremely supportive. I love the staff and leadership team that I work with. Our church has grown quantitatively and qualitatively. We in the process of getting ready to build a new building. Just last night we baptized 34 people. Things in ministry are good. They are hard, but they are good. I write all that to give the back story that things at Grace are good. In fact beyond good, things are awesome. But even in the midst of all of this, you have naysayers. There are people who continually feel the need to poke at and pick at ministry choices. Now, let me be very clear, I love a critical eye. I love people who care enough to express their opinion. I love people that are thinking about things and ask “why are we choosing to do that?” These folks are necessary and helpful (assuming it is done in a gentle spirit). I also want to state that there has NOT been a recent comment or situation prompting this post. But something happened over the course of time that I was not prepared for as I dialogued with others about decisions made at our church.
People over the years have brought concerns or questions to me, our staff and our leaders. They have shared observations and thoughts. And most of the time, the explanation for what we are doing boils down to this – we think the decision made will allow us to reach more people who are far away from Jesus, while at the same time not hindering a person who is already a Christian from moving forward. When I share this response, something happens that I did not anticipate. This consistent explanation is received very well by people who are unchurched, newly churched, not a Christian, a young Christian and many others who fall into a variety of categories. But those who have the greatest time getting behind certain decisions are the people who are the most churched. Often people who I think are (and they would personally profess to be) mature Christians. But almost every time, these folks are very churched people.
Now there are definitely reasons to question and push back. Is the decision biblical? Does it cost too much money? How does it fit into the budget? Does it keep current Christians from growing? Is it wise? And so on… But as I make this observation about the most churched people struggling with changes and decisions and such, I have begun to reason something. Oftentimes those most familiar with the teachings of the mission of Jesus, have forgotten how to live out the mission of Jesus. I do not think it is intentional or that people are just being silly. But when it comes to using media, playing non-christian music during a part of a service, using illustrations from pop culture, creating a casual atmosphere, turning up the music, spending money on high-end children’s checkin gear and so on…it is about reaching those who are not caught. We often try to protect and catch the fish that are already in the aquarium. Those who are not churched and do not care about church think differently than believers. They need to be disarmed when they walk into a church building. They process life from a different angle. Paul said it best, “we become all things to all people, so that we might win them.” Changes are not made at our church just randomly, they always have mission in mind.