Belong Before You Believe?

The church has it all backwards.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the church. I am personally invested in the church. But I’m pretty sure that the church needs to change directions.

Of course I’m talking about the visible church, the one found in physical locations, not the invisible church, also known as the body of Christ. The invisible church is doing just fine, thank you very much. It’s the visible church that needs to rethink its strategy.

The strategy I’m referring to comes in a lot of different forms and formats, but mostly it can be summarized in one little phrase: “Belong before you believe.” The strategy behind the phrase is quite simple. If a church can attract people through its preaching and music and programs—all presented by cheerful, friendly, successful people—then visitors to that church will be compelled to keep coming and eventually believe what the preacher and the music and the programs are talking about.

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It’s a Starbucks Sunday: Are you Ready to Order?

Here's a re-post just to remind myself.  

It’s Sunday.

Not only will 11.7 million people visit a Starbucks and ask for something extraordinarily specific like a “non-fat soy sugar-free caramel macchiato with a shot of espresso,” but a whole lot of us will shop for churches with the same self-absorbed specificity.

“I’m looking for a youthful, semi-charismatic service with a hint of reformed theology and a Donald Miller vibe.” 

“Can you help me find a progressive Presbyterian congregation for my mother—one that has a robed choir, snacks between services, and a penchant for homeless missions?

“We’re visiting a new church today. It’s slightly Willow Creek with a touch of old-school Calvary Chapel. It caters to single parents, disenfranchised boomers, and men who don’t want to hold hands. And you gotta love the stadium seating.”

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Church Shopping Exposed

We’re here this Sunday morning in the lobby of What’s Happening Community Church, located in the suburbs of Caucasian Falls, USA.  A couple new to the church has just exited the service and has approached the preaching pastor.  Let’s listen in.

Pastor:  Good morning!  You’re new, right?

Joe:  Hi. Yes,  I’m Joe and this is my wife, Jill.

Pastor:  Great to have you here this morning.

Jill:  Yes, first time here.  Really loved the service.

Pastor:  Well, God bless you both.

Joe:  Do you have a moment? We were just wondering if we could ask you a few questions.

Pastor: Sure. Fire away.

Joe: How many services do you have here?

Note:  This is code for, “I like to sleep in late on Sundays.”

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