Monday, October 7, 2013

Define Your Audience

On our drive home from a weekend visit in Kansas yesterday (and it was a lo-o-ong drive, I'm tellin' you), I saw a couple huge billboards up next to a church:



Now, I essentially agree, of course, with the sentiments of these messages, but as we sped past them down the busy I-35 corridor through Texas, I had to wonder who exactly their intended audience was.

Because the only people who could really make any sense out of this message (beyond the vague idea that here are some Bible-thumpers trying to save my soul) are people who have had enough exposure to church and Bible-teaching to know what King they're talking about and what's involved in being ready for him. They would also need to have some idea of what it means to ask Jesus to come into your heart.

I suppose it's possible that random Unchurched Harry and Mary could be headed down from the Cowboys game, see the sign and say to each other, "King? There's a king coming? I don't know what that means, but I'm sure I'm not ready! Should we pray and ask Jesus to come into our heart, whatever that means? Yeah -- better safe than sorry." But would anyone really think such a "confession of faith" is legit?

No, really, the only people such signs are going to be effective with are those who have grown up in the church and wandered away and are in a place where God is convicting them and wooing them back and this gives the final push at the right moment. Not that there isn't value in that, but I don't know that they're getting a lot of bang for their buck with those billboards.

My friend in NJ used to talk about this being the first post-Christian generation in America.  That rankled me a bit at the time, but I think he's right.  A couple generations ago, someone you were witnessing to might disagree with your assertion that Jesus Is The Answer, but they would at least know the Question. Not so today.

The seeker-focused church model has something going for it in that it assumes a post-Christian generation and starts from there. The traditional church needs to pay attention to that. But the seeker-focus unfortunately can go too far by trying to attract the seeker not with Christ, but with the seeker's own idols. We cease, at that point, to be a Christian church and become simply a spiritual social service club.

We're still looking for a church here in San Antonio.  My prayer is for a church full of genuine worshippers -- not a spiritual social service club.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are in a post-Christian generation. And my personal response is to live the gospel radically....radical hospitality and loving extravagantly....the way Jesus did. When people ask me why I do the things I do (and they do ask) I get to tell them why....and that opens up a dialogue. St. Francis said (or is attributed to have said) "Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words."