Friday, April 4, 2014

Kill the Marketing, Just Do Church

Our family has lived in San Antonio for almost nine months now. That's approximately thirty-six Sundays. Every one of those Sundays, give or take a few (we have done some traveling and had a sick Sunday here and there), we have attended a church service somewhere in town. A few of these churches we went back to a few times, but that still equals quite a few churches we've visited.

And we still haven't decided on a church home.
It's discouraging to me. I want to get settled. I want to get connected. I want to stop having the discussion every weekend about where we're going tomorrow, what time do they start again, which Sunday School class will we try out this time, yada yada. I promise that we're not blowing this off. We want to join up – we just want to be sure that we join up where God wants us.
A primary issue for us is that we want our girls to have a group in their church that they feel comfortable with and can grow alongside. And for our eldest, in particular, that is proving to be a challenge. But honestly, for me, I think there's something else in my way, and I haven't decided if this is a good thing in me or not . . . but here it is:
I am so done with the seeker-focused mega-church model.
I am tired of church-as-marketing-strategy. I just want to meet weekly with a group of people who are desperate for God and who are finding Him.
I am done with programmed worship. I’ve spent much of my last several years working with sermon schedules, writing dramas, helping plan worship services around themes, considering slogans, images, ways to create atmosphere . . . Lord knows, I am not a spontaneous person, and everything about this process should appeal to my nature, but I am done.
I want to sit at the feet (literally, if necessary) of a man (or woman) who is so fervently seeking God in his own life that what he is learning and experiencing spills out of his mouth spontaneously with passion and urgency. I’ll listen to him for a couple hours if it’s legit and Spirit-filled.
I want to sing with a group of people who are singing in genuine worship. I want to sing a song because the Spirit began singing a song in someone’s heart, and they began singing it out loud, and the Spirit within all of us agreed by joining in. I want to be with people who sing with abandon, not with precision. I want the lyrics to come from the heart and not the screen.
I want to make my entertainment entertainment and my worship worship. I don’t want to care a whit about the quality of the sound system, or the lighting, or the camera angles, or the video feed. I want to leave that stuff to concerts and plays – to legitimate performances.
I am done with creating a Sunday morning show that will draw people in. I want to worship with the people who are there to worship – and if that draws others, hallelujah. I’ve increasingly become convicted that the church should be a place where the believers gather to be believers, not to be whatever it is the world wants believers to be. Not an exclusive club that keeps people out . . . or a marketing program trying to attract people in . . . but an open assembly where we simply are who we are, and anyone is welcome to join us – we're thrilled to have you! – but we have no intention of doing anything differently to get you there or keep you there, because what we're doing is about God and not about us or you.

Am I completely off-base? Am I expecting too much? I don't know. But this is where I am. And we still don't know where we're going to church this Sunday morning.

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