If you buy a ticket to a ball game, a concert, or a movie, then you expect a seat in a crowd of strangers. You’re not there for the people. You are there for the event like everyone else. You might occasionally run into a friend, but most of the people around you will be nameless ticket holders. If you buy season tickets to the Grizzlies, then you might start recognizing a few faces. You may even learn a name or two. But you still won’t be there for the people.
This is what church has become for most Americans – an event. When we feel like cheering for the “home team”, need a little nostalgia, or want some positive thinking in our life, we visit church services – a few times a year. Some of us are still season-ticket holders because we value the experience a little more. We show up twice a month now on average.
The American church has largely embraced an event-driven ministry. We have allowed our entertainment-saturated culture too much influence. This is important to think about for two reasons:
- The church “experience” will never be able to compete with a few extra hours on the PlayStation or watching your favorite Netflix series. Even the churches with the best production, teaching, and music will get old eventually and some new experience will replace it. But this is only an issue if we continue to think of church as just an event.
- Church is not just an event or a building. Church is a group of people who love one another. God’s vision for the church was not buildings full of strangers in the dark. No one will give up a substantial amount of free time for that unless their identity is tied to it somehow. But someone who needs a committed, loving family might give up some free time for it…
My wife and I are on the verge of adopting two foster children. The adoption process has taught us so much, especially about God’s love and His vision for the church. It has led me to stop talking about “church membership” and instead replace the language with “adoption”. When we commit to a church family (and they commit to us), we are not joining a club to pay dues. Nor are we buying season tickets to a show. We are being adopted into a visible, living, breathing family. We are brothers and sisters with one Father. We are covenanting with the Father of the Fatherless and the Defender of Widows.
If people begin to think of church as a real family, they will forgive our mediocre preaching and our out-of-style worship music. Love covers a multitude of sins… and average experiences. We can only compete with people’s entertainment if we stop trying to entertain. We need the church to be the church. We need the family of God. It’s also the only place Jesus promises to be. We will never be bored if we start thinking of the church the way God sees it.
Are you interested in being adopted? Christ Fellowship will hold two Adoption Classes in April. We are a family, but we are always adopting.