Modern church culture was created during the age of literacy and mass printing. That 500 year culture highly valued expert knowledge that was authorized by institutional credentials. The Authorized Version of the Bible (AKA – King James Version), a degree from seminary along with professional credentials – ordination by a state church or national denomination were what gave people confidence that trustworthy information was being taught.
In this post-modern era, information comes at us in relentless tsunami after tsunami, every single day, overwhelming out ability to process and filter it all. We are now more likely to choose sources after our own heart than to trust in an institutionally authorized account of reality.
This is the context of our church today. But we have scarcely adjusted to the emerging needs people are now experiencing. Someday trust may be restored in institutional authorities, but until it does there is a change church leaders would be wise to embrace.
Churches that thrive today have begun to build new foundations of trust that generate confidence, faith and hope. They begin with love.
“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
These churches are shifting the focus of their prayers and planning to make sure they root all their communications and their action in the work of cultivating deepening, loving relationships. They’ve come to recognize that people are much more likely to be motivated to sit down with a group of people who they love and who they know loves them than they are to seek out a brilliant sermon to listen to. They can hear any of ten thousand sermons on their smartphone. But the people who love them likely can be numbered on the fingers of one hand.
Let’s be very clear. Greeters at the door of our church aren’t sufficient to communicate that kind of love. Our church will only deliver that kind of loving relationship when you and I go out and spend conversational time with people where they live, work, play, study, eat and serve. Until we implement a plan to do that, our church is living in the past.
The very first step is beginning to talk with strangers. More about that next time.
Yours in Christ,