Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Church: Intentionality

One thing most faith communities struggle with, is intentionality.

It wasn’t too long ago… maybe 50-60 years…that the intention of the mainline Protestant church was to provide community. So folks would get together for worship, bridge club, youth group, and CWF to find their community. Their best friend sat in the pew next to them and their children played together.

Then, in the 80’s, as those children grew up and the “best friends” grew older, the churches intention was to make us “better people.” The self-help industry had taken off and churches claimed “making us feel good” as their primary task. So preachers taught studies titled “10 Steps Through Jesus, to a Bigger Bank Account” (I’m not making that up) and The Purpose Driven-ish Everything.
By the early 2000’s, as church membership began its exponential slide, the intention became membership retention. Panic sort of set in as churches were left with oversized recreation centers and office complexes. We started battening down the hatches and stopped sharing our resources and the intention became self-preservation.

And now it’s 2013 and churches EVERYWHERE are wondering what their intention is? How do we answer the “why church” question?
We’ve noticed that “self-perseveration” isn’t working. And we know that the church isn’t about us, as individuals (we only have to read the Bible in a cursory way, to get that much) and making sure we “feel good” (though a by-product of our faith and participation in community, often makes us feel good…it’s not the objective). And it doesn’t take much to notice that we’re finding our community on the soccer field sidelines, the book club, and our business networks.

So what is our intention?
I don’t know the answer to the question. I don’t. I mean of course, I have some thoughts on the matter…but the “why church?” question, HAS to be answered by the people of God, the community that has gathered and called this place or that place, church.

The church is changing.  That much is sure.  But even the most seasoned...and the most youthful...pastors and leaders, don't have a clue what that looks like.  So maybe it's time to define our intention.  A new intention.  A God intention.  Then maybe the rest will fall into place.

Because as beautiful as this is...

It can't be ALL there is.

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