I had a great email conversation with a reader...here it is:
I left a comment but also wanted to email you. My name is (Jack) and my wife and I are currently attending a mega church in Phoenix. Having said all that I just wanted to say that I have been burdened by the thought of something just not adding up with the "come to us" strategy in today's church culture. I haven't been able to get it off my mind lately. I feel like something is wrong. Not that the Church isn't doing good in the world, but that we aren't living up to the capabilities God has equipped us with. I feel like my heart is to reach a crowd of people that the church has seemingly avoided due to it's "come to me" attitude. I am really looking forward to seeing what you post in the days to come about this situation. It has been on the forefront of my mind and heart non-stop lately. Do you think that we have totally strayed from what the Church's strategy was intended to be? Do you feel like my generation (I'm 20) will be the one to fix these issues? I know my heart is to be a part of a local church but to do ministry in what seems to be an unconventional, missional AND attractional way. Maybe in the near future what is on my heart won't be too unconventional after all.
And my reply:
Thanks for writing Jack. Actually, I don't see what the typical church is doing today as a "come to me" attitude. I see it as a strategy or method. And the thing is--it's working in a lot of places! Why? Because culture is diverse--and for a bunch of people who don't know Jesus or who don't "go" to church...attending a church service in a church building fits right into their culture. They "go" to a stadium for a game, they "go" to a mall to shop, they "go" to a school for an education.
So, no, I don't think we've strayed from what the strategy was intended to be. I don’t think church buildings were part of God's strategy, but neither are they unbiblical. We were left on this earth to go into the world. As Alan Hirsch has said, "We need to go into a culture and figure out what the good news means to them. We need to discover what church looks like in their context." I'm convinced the "come to us" model is still the right model for millions in America. I believe it might be the right model for about 40% of my community.
But the problem--that 40% number (or whatever you think it is in your setting) is shrinking. And the number of people for whom the "come to the box" model will never work--it's growing.
I want to be part of the solution. I want to have eyes wide open about how to reach the 60% while still being effective with the 40%. I want to help motivate thousands of Christ-followers in an established church to open their eyes and offer Hope and Light to a world around them who might never come to church.
How would you have answered Jack? What thoughts do you have about my reply?