Excerpted from an article by Carey Nieuwhof / edited by J. McLaurin
Let’s make a clear statement: Church is not about you being comfortable and happy. It’s NOT! It’s about reaching people who don’t know Christ and who don’t go to church.
It follows that, in essence, the mission of the church is to share the love of Christ with the world with the hope that everyone will come into a relationship with Jesus. Of course, the big challenge is that unchurched people are not flocking to the local corner church. Most Christians can’t seem to understand why, We don’t understand what they are doing, or not doing, to change that reality.
Statistically, there are many reasons, but a surprising number center around one thing: Christians treat the church as if it’s their private club. It’s their place and not everyone else is welcome.
The natural pull of human nature is toward self, not towards others, and churches behave the same way. Churches almost exclusively focus on inner needs and wants rather than the needs of those outside the church. It’s like churches are saying to the visting public, “we’d love to have you here as long as you can fit in and feel comfortable in our environment”. That’s exactly what has happened – churches get focused on the needs and wants of their members. Maybe it’s even worse than that, it goes beyond needs and wants. Maybe it’s about personal preferences.
This position explains why change is so hard in the church. As soon as church leaders try to focus on something other than preferences of the members (like reaching unchurched people) they get inundated with angry emails and complaints pointing out from Christian members who feel like it’s their right to have a church that caters exactly to their tastes and whims. Millions of unchurched people are paying the price for that attitude and staying away from the local church. They come to visit and see that’s its Your Church - not a church where they, as a visitor seeking Christ, are particularly welcome or focused upon.
Rather than being focused on the new faces and how to connect with them, we’re more concerned they might take our regular pew seat. How welcome would you feel if you visited a church and someone came up to you and said in the nicest possible way, “You are in my seat.”