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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Consuming News, Consuming God

This article originally appeared on the Mars Hill Church Creative blog.

USA Today announced recently they're significantly restructuring of their newsroom, starting with a big layoff. Underlying the physical effects are real changes in their business of journalism. As newspapers and magazines continue their sprint away from physical towards digitally distributed content, we gain some helpful visibility into how Americans consume news and, far more importantly, how and what news is reported on. Fundamental shifts in how Americans produce and consume news are happening quickly, and, rather subtly. We'll take a look at why this matters to you, but first, some brief background.

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College-age Consumerism

There is a lot of conversation from church leaders about the consumerism of people in churches.  A consumer, well, consumes.  He doesn’t give.  He accumulates.  He takes.  He gets what he desires and then leaves.  This frustrates many of us and, I think, it should.  Some questions I’ve been asking lately are:

  1. What am I personally doing to battle this in my life?  The truth is my culture is about consumerism, so this is tough.
  2. Are there ways in which we approach ministry that may actually be enabling a consumer mentality?  At worst, creating it?
  3. Are there battles we’re not facing that we ought to be?  What fears are we giving into by not fighting those?
  4. What does our infrastructure of ministry say about the Christian life, without using words?  In other words, what would an outsider say about the Christian life if they only had our ministry as an example?  Would it be self sacrifice, or feed a consumer mentality?  How about your personal life?  What does that say to outsiders about what it means to be a follower of Christ?
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