Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ron Maroia wrote this on our need for Church

People aren’t craving church, or sermons or bible study…the are dying to be in small community where real dialogue and doing life together happens.
I agree with Ron that people tend to give church a miss, much more readily that in the past. Their need for REAL RELATIONSHIPS tend to drive them to other places to find them. Even the Cell group  is not enough. The argument is that there is a program that force
everything in a direction. It is not a real uninhibited experience where people can have fun, enjoy what they are doing and enjoy talking about God and how God impacts their lives. In my experience people are hungry for teaching, but only and then only after they experienced real relationships. That is probably why the Bikers-service we have at our Church every second last weekend op the month are so popular. We have fun together driving through the mountains, have a sermon, drive some more and then we eat together somewhere beautiful where we can share and talk and be real. Where life together happens. – Paul Barnard
We have done all we know to build membership and attendance figures. But I wonder if we have created belonging mechanisms instead of transformational organisms. And if I am honest I am past the wondering stage.
I am starting to identify what some might call a startling trend. Increasing numbers of church attenders are considering once a month (twice at the most) church attendance committed church participation. The other 2-3 weekends they are doing cookouts with family and friends, meeting for “discussion” in alternative venues or doing something with other groups of people in service to their larger geographic community.
None of this competes in their minds with faithful church commitment. They are all about a changed life and they believe they know best how that life change happens for them. So instead of sitting four Sundays in a row listening to an expert sage on stage tell them what the bible says, they have decided to read the bible with their group of friends, discuss what is happening in their lives and then help others in their community toward greater shalom.
This will require us in the church to reconfigure our thinking about what weh think the church is providing. We no longer live in what Robert Wuthnow called the “culture of obligation.” That world is nearly dead. This signals a crisis/opportunity for the church.
There is still a firm believe from some of the people that came out of the “culture of obligation” that people who leave the church because of this need is no lost to the Church. This is the one thing that breaks my heart when people leave church while leader say: “O well it is their choice” We cannot dare sit still at this stage, we must realise that the time of “building congregations” (Gemeentebou) is past. We must concentrate on being a faith community! We were so busy making congregation small effective businesses that we forgot the core business of the church. “Loving God en Loving People” – Paul Barnard
A crisis because the obligatory mechanism, that if we are honest drove quite a bit of attendance, is no longer in place. And an opportunity because the church is now being forced to rethink what “business” she is actually in, and how is that work to be brokered and resourced to the people of God.
This is a fragile liminal time, but a liminal time is also full of possibility
Pastors should stop playing CEO’s and become Pastors: humble, serving ready to love serve and share the Word of God. – Paul Barnard
The original article can be read at: http://ow.ly/1pLal


  1. I agree Paul. You see the same problems arise when administrators try and run Hospitals as businesses. Making money off sick people hardly seems fair!

    As for the comments on community and relationships I couldn't agree more. If I look at my own Cell group, it would come to a sudden halt if I had to start using the set out program. We see the same thing in our Teen Sunday School. The material works only when it is the fuse being lit for a conversation about real life. When real life enters the small group, suddenly relationships begin forming and a leader can be involved in a small group for several years.

    So yes, our teens and adults are at a stage where relationships can happen on facebook and in coffee shops and malls. Our problem is; how are we bringing relationships to church?

  2. gilbert bilezekian wrote a great book, community 101. Written from an American perspective, some of the things he mentions I think would be difficult to implement in a South African setting.