In asking the question, “How do you change a church?,” the answer was the most frustrating. The answer is out of my control. You can’t depend on volunteers to greet for you, to be friendly for you, or to pray in your place for someone else. For a church to change, it requires its congregants to be changed from the inside out. How do we do this?
A year or two ago, I visited a mega church the size of a college campus. Yet, every person with or without a volunteer badge stepped up and made it feel like a small church, like a family of God. Change begins with the person. It’s taking the teachings of the Bible to heart and applying it everyday to your life; not living perfect for works, but out of love and sincerity, wanting to do the right thing. The change I seek is for people to live beyond their comfort zones, reach out to strangers, fill empty volunteer slots, but mainly, to do the first two suggestions even without a job badge pinned to your shirt. We shouldn’t leave the job of greeting to the greeter only, but do this on our own.
Guilting, lecturing, or preaching won’t change the heart or tear down the walls that exist in some churches.
Prayer will change hearts because it’s Holy Spirit powered; prayer and God’s Word will transform. Practice being authentic everyday.
Authentic is what my friend would call a buzz word. The word is everywhere nowadays. People leave a church because of wounds or due to the lack of “authentic” people. The Barna Group says, “Based on past studies of those who avoid Christian churches, one of the driving forces behind such behavior is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. In fact, one Barna study among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people.”
To each of us, the word authentic has varied meanings according to our personal preferences, but for the sake of this argument, I am saying authentic means being real, honest, and according to the dictionary, having “shared beliefs.” It’s difficult to be authentic when others get offended when you “air your dirty laundry.” We all have stories and we should share those stories, never underestimating the power of God behind them. Being authentic means leaning on one another in prayer during difficult trials. We should all do our part in being authentic. Instead of leaving that job to a prayer warrior or a greeter, we should own it. This requires forgiving our brother or sister for when they wound us. It means not living a life thinking everyone is going to hurt us.
Hurt brings walls. Walls create apathy and cliques. Instead of focusing on what isn’t filling our needs, let’s practice filing other people’s needs. I struggle with that last sentence.
My friend spoke often about long-suffering. When my needs aren’t met, I grow dysfunctional. I want to fix what’s wrong, but it’s not in my power to fix what’s wrong. That’s God’s area. I am not God. When I can’t fix what’s wrong, I get frustrated. I stop engaging. My friend has taught me much about long-suffering and because of this, I have learned through difficult trials to stay and listen to God. I am learning how to stay engaged even when I don’t feel like it.
Why Am I Bringing This Up?
Bibledude.net asked us to blog on the “Power of We” for Blog Action Day. Dan King says, “It sounds a lot like the church.”
Blog Action Day site says: “Secondly,The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.”
In order for churches to change Biblically, we need to remember that the responsibility on Sunday doesn’t belong solely to the volunteer. Making people feel welcome, comforting, praying with or for someone, and helping in practical ways doesn’t always require an official position or a name tag. It just requires walking in our belief even when we don’t feel like being engaged. Sometimes being other-focused tends to rejuvenate what felt dead.