Church Growth, the Right Way
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Sears and the Church Are Losing Influence
“Put on your Sunday’s best, kids, we’re going to Sears!”
Even in 1995 when The Brady Movie came out, this scene was more than a bit silly. Today, it’s tragic. There really was a day in America when Sears was the pinnacle of retail, and taking a trip there was family fun.
These days, walking through a Sears is usually depressing. They’re doing their best, but the company has just lost touch. When you need tools, you probably think about Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a local hardware store. When you need electronics, you probably think of Best Buy. When you need clothes, you think of Gap or Old Navy—or even a place like Target.
Truthfully, you probably think about Amazon for all of these things. Right?
Sears used to have a place in the American mind and culture, but it just doesn’t anymore.
The same is true about the church.
Many Christians do not see the church as necessary for spiritual growth. People understand spirituality to be personal, and they think that they can grow on their own.
The church bleeds fastest among its youth. The problem is not that the church isn’t “cool” enough. But young people recognize the dissonance between what the church says and what the church does.
If the church is not really going to be about making and growing disciples, there are a thousand different ways young people would rather spend their time. They will not keep coming just because of habit or tradition, and Sunday morning church does not hold the cultural weight it once did.
I don’t think we can really blame young people, can we?
Should Sears blame its customers for shopping on Amazon? Or does the responsibility of maintaining its influence lie with Sears?
Of course, we would all agree that it’s Sears job to fight for their relevance.
I can already hear the comments now:
“But the church is different. It isn’t a business. People should just care about church. We shouldn’t have to coddle people to get them to come to church.”
I actually agree with you.
The church is different. The church is not a business.
The church is the most important organization on the planet.
But it is absolutely the church’s fault that people do not care about church anymore. It’s time to stop blaming culture.
Jesus said to Simon in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (ESV, emphasis mine).
If the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, what chance does culture have?
But if that’s true, why does culture seem to be winning?
Because we have stopped building the church.
The church is not a holy huddle. The church is not a social club. The church is not Sunday school classes, pot lucks, and hymn sings. It’s not tent revivals, knitting circles, or church choirs. It’s not ladies parlors, VBS, or flannel graph. The church is not fog machines, specialty coffee, and slick design.
When we become focused primarily on building these things, we’ve lost touch with actually building the church.
The church is God’s unstoppable force for change in the world. The church makes disciples. The church teaches people to obey all that Christ commanded. The church reveals the person of Jesus to a dark world.
Sears forgot who it was because it got stuck on what it did. The church is losing influence because we have let our identity become rooted in what we do instead of who we are. We have lost touch with our mandate. We have lost our passion for doing whatever it takes to reach the lost.
If the church is going to overcome the obstacles in its way, we are going to have to hustle. We are going to have to change.
No more excuses.
I don’t want to see the church become like Sears: old, disorganized, failing, lacking a clear identity.
I want the church to become all that Christ called it to be. I think you do, too.