As the spiritual leader of a local congregation, I spend much of my time reading and staying up to date on the latest trends in all things church. One of the most amazing things to me is this desire to reduce to success or failure of a church based on numbers. It seems to be all about the numbers of people that cross the threshold of the church building on any given Sunday as if a church of 1,000 is more successful than a home church of 5! I just don’t get it.
The other part of the equation is our definition of church. Most of the “church growth” folks think of the church as the building, and the expression of that is what takes place inside the building, namely, the Sunday morning worship service. It seems that these folks never take into consideration any alternative ministry, the ministry that does not take place inside the building but is focused only on what happens inside the four walls of the church.
There is no doubt that church is changing, just look around, but that does not mean people are not engaged on a spiritual level outside of the confines of the four walls of the church.
I do believe church as we have always known it is in decline and I am not sure that is a bad thing. Society has caused a shift in the way we work and live, and the church needs to adapt. We can stand on the steps of the church on Sunday morning and shake our fist at the world, but that will not bring them back. We can lament all we want about Sunday just being another day of the week, but the reality is, life has changed, and it is going to reverse.
So, we have to redefine what it means to be the church and what church means. We also need to redefine what success and failure look like when it comes to ministry.