For example, the survey revealed that 57% of those attending Granger do not believe in the authority of the Bible. Ouch. I mentioned here that the results were jarring to us. And they were.
But I can think of some worse statistics. I would much rather be in a church where 57% don't believe in the Bible than in a church where 100% of those attending do believe in the Bible. That would be awful!
Imagine a church that was completely filled with those already convinced...where no one invited an unchurched friend...where the Christians had grown stagnant in their pursuit of knowledge and stopped putting the gospel into practice...where the church had made Jesus so unattractive that no one on a search for purpose or meaning would consider coming. If I found myself in such a church, I would be weeping.
Our survey found that 56% of those attending Granger do not believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life. We aren't happy with that, and we are making some changes to bring that percentage down.
But you know what? If it decreased all the way to 0%, we would be much less happy than we are today. If we make all these changes, and the end result is that one year from now we have a church where 100% of our people believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life--we will have failed miserably.
You might not know that 15% of the people who attend our church every weekend are still exploring Christianity. That's awesome! We don't expect pre-Christians to believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life. In addition, another 42% in our church are baby Christians. They've given their life to Jesus, but they are still very young in their faith. Most of them didn't grow up in church, and for many of them, Granger is their first and only church experience. They come, make a decision to follow Christ, and then begin to learn and become un-programmed from the values and philosophies of the world. So I'm not surprised that many of them don't have their theology straight yet.
No, we aren't happy that 47% of those attending don't believe in salvation by grace. But in a community steeped in Catholic traditions, we're pretty jazzed that hundreds are coming and learning and taking steps. Yes, we want to see that percentage come down, but we'll be very sad on the day that we find everyone at Granger comprehends the grace of Jesus.
The bloggards* will tell you that these stats prove we aren't a church. They are partially right. When anyone asks me, "How many are in your church?", I typically answer this way: "That's a good question, but there are around 5,000 who attend each weekend." We've believed and taught for years that a crowd is not a church. At Granger, we build a weekend experience to draw the biggest crowd possible, because we believe that if more people hear the gospel, more people will respond. But we don't for a minute believe that a crowd is a church. But we are leaning on Jesus AND working our butts off to turn the crowd into committed congregation of believers who are serving, giving, growing, and inviting their friends to join them on the journey.
I will cringe if the day ever comes when only the church gathers on the weekend...or when the supposed mature Christians stop inviting their friends to hear the good news...or when we have a church filled with people who ace their theology exam but flunk their practice-ology test.
My name is Tim Stevens. I'm a pastor at Granger Community Church. And I couldn't be happier.
Bloggards = Bloggers who hide behind their keyboards shooting verbal arrows from afar but are too cowardly to go to the source. (Yes, I made this term up.)