No one reads smoke signals anymore

I’d seen this video presentation before but this afternoon it hit me in a new way.

Do you know how difficult it is to get church people to plan creatively? No matter what board or commission I’ve served on, no matter what church I’ve pastored, the mantra of “we’ve never done it that way before” has echoed through most every decision.

Everyone is an expert in church work. I think that’s different than say … in the world of auto repair or plumbing. In church work everyone has an opinion of what should be done. Small groups should look a certain way, youth programs should run like they used to 20 years ago and church services cannot be changed. Laypeople vote and say, “I think” or “I feel” or even “God wants.” We pastors work hard to keep everyone happy and avoid what we see as the ultimate danger of people leaving our churches.

Can you imagine auto repair working that way? You drop off your car and then the shop calls together a group of people to come together to fix it. One is a teacher, one is a mom, one is a baker and one is an accountant. They pop open the hood and take a look having little idea what they are looking at. Then they grab some wrenches and go to town. “I think this thing-a-majiggy is not right,” one of them says ripping off the air filter. Another has loosened to oil cap and is pouring in some water saying, “I feel like this thing here is almost out of water.” One person stands to the side hesitant to touch anything but is very vocal with what he thinks should be done. The last member of the car committee had to leave but he’ll be back the meeting after next which is two months from now.

Ya know what? I’m not taking my car there. I want someone who works with cars, studies cars, thinks about cars and has been trained to do what she does. It’s okay with me if she directs a less experienced crew to work on my car because I know she’s directing the efforts. She’s training new mechanics, even. I like that.

In church work I have seen so many people call a pastor to lead and then tie his hands when he tries to lead. His training and track record really don’t matter. What matters is what they think the church needs. What matters is what they want. He works for them, afterall. The sooner he gets that message, the better, as far as most churches are concerned.

Granted, many of us pastor types have learned our lesson. We’ve given up leading and simply work to give everyone what they want. When they start fighting we head somewhere else to give a new congregation a warm body to stand up front and talk to them every week. The place we leave attracts someone else to bring the message the people want to hear.

Meanwhile, an entire generation has no idea what the gospel is. They see the church as irrelevant and outdated. They sleep in on Sunday or take the opportunity to go jogging. To them, church is a waste of time. At the same time younger church people are leaving because they know what church is. They’ve heard the messages in the same way so many times that, to them, it feels like they are stuck repeating the same math class semester after semester.

The message of Jesus is timeless. It doesn’t change. The church that will not change its methods becomes more and more irrelevant with each passing minute.

There is an entire world of new ways to connect people with the message of Christ. Why are we so hesitant to use them to the fullest? Our smoke signal methods just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Let’s take risks and put our own desires for comfort aside. Let’s do all that we can to help others discover Hope in Jesus.

Are you with me?

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About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope and encouragement at conferences, workshops, church and civic gatherings.
This entry was posted in campus ministry, change, Christianity, church planting, direction, gospel, Jesus, leadership, ministry, pastor, peace, religion, Uncategorized, vision and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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