As I continue to read DeYoung and Cluck’s, Why We Love the Church, I have been thinking about the question of how to make the church not boring but still maintaining the distinction of being a church and not some social club.
According to DeYoung, many people leave the church because it’s boring. So, we may ask, how can we make the church not boring? What are people, young people in particular, looking for in a church? How can we keep them there? That is a big question, with a very long answer. I have just a few suggestions which I have summarized here in no particular order:
Parents have a responsibility to demonstrate what it means to love the church. If your children observe or hear negative attitudes toward the church, they will likely adopt those attitudes. However, if you invest time and energy into loving the church, they will at the very least know that there is more to church life than just warming pews on Sunday mornings, and they will likely have a fondness toward the church that will grow with time.
The church needs to be more than a Sunday morning gathering. I am not a big believer in programs for the sake of programs. However, there needs to be a way for people to connect with each other throughout the week. Every group of people will do this a little differently, but it needs to be done.
The Gospel needs to be preached. This is important because when other things are central to the sermons, you will leave people out. If the sermon is about financial management, proper parenting, dating, alcohol abuse, or any other hot social or personal issue, you are targeting only a portion of the congregation. When the Gospel is preached, all believers will be able to relate and apply it to their lives. It is true that particular personal or social issues may come up in sermons, but those issues must not be the main reason why that sermon is being preached. The main point of the sermon should be the same as the main point of the Bible text.
There should be growth in the church. Please read carefully in order to understand what I’m saying… I have been to churches that have not “grown” in decades. I am not referring to the number of people who attend on Sunday mornings. I am referring to how the people in the church are responding to Jesus. It needs to be clear that people are being transformed by the life-changing message of the Gospel. Even if there were only 30 members when the church started 50 years ago, and that number is still about the same, with a some fluctuations due to children being born and then heading off for bigger and better things, the fact that Christians have God as their Lord needs to be evident. If there is no transformation, there is no witness to the resurrection of Christ. If there is no witness, the church is nothing more than one of the most unappealing social clubs in history.
Each of these items, and many more, could be expanded enough to write a book. And maybe DeYoung and Kluck get into them (I’m under half done the book). If not, maybe I’ll have to write a book on them some day. Regardless, I’m passionate about this issue, and I hope that my words here help some of you who are wondering how to make the church less boring. It’s probably not the answer many are looking for (it would be easier to tell you to just expand the budget and get U2 as the worship leaders), but these are real, long term solutions to the problem of people leaving the church.