In my previous post, I took you back to the year 1850. Back then, church services were incredibly compelling because they offered entertainment, ideas and social networking – three things that were difficult to come by in the 19th century.
Fast forward to today. What was once rare is now common. Entertainment, ideas and social networking are ubiquitous and cheap – delivered via the Internet, broadcast media and social media.
The church has been slow to respond to this change. The centerpiece of our corporate life is the weekly worship service – which is designed to meet the needs of 1850. Our gatherings provide information (a sermon), entertainment (worship music) and light social networking (the after-church chat). We continue to offer this basic lineup, assuming this is what a perishing world needs.
Yet people keep turning their back on church – and men are leading this exodus. We assume they leaving because they are disinterested in God. But what if they’re dropping out simply because the local church no longer offers something unique and meaningful? What if men have realized they can get their spiritual information, entertainment and socializing by other means?
When small retailers face competition from the likes of Wal-Mart, they have two choices: they can keep doing business as they always have — and be destroyed. Or they can focus on offering a unique service their customers can’t get anywhere else — and thrive.
Churches face a similar situation. The weekly worship service isn’t the draw it used to be. It’s time to ask the transformative questions: What is the unique gift Christians possess that people can’t get anywhere else? And how can we deliver that gift in a way that people will accept?
Thom and Joani Schultz may have an answer. They’ve written an insightful book titled Why Nobody Goes to Church Anymore. The authors suggest “Four Acts of Love” that encapsulate what people are looking for today:
- Radical hospitality
- Fearless conversation
- Genuine humility
- Divine anticipation
Non-churchgoers are not crying out for meatier sermons, hipper praise music or better post-sermon chit-chat. But they do want to be welcomed. They want to talk about deep things that trouble them. They want to look into the eyes of a person who understands and loves them. And they want to know how God is at work in the world. Once people have experienced these four acts of love, they want to change. This is true for men and women alike.
To their credit, Thom and Joani are pioneering a new form of ministry that’s built to deliver these four acts of love. They’re calling it Lifetree Café. I’ve tried it – and it is unlike any church service I’ve ever attended. There’s no sermon. No singing. No sacraments. Lifetree is driven by table conversation – not a stage presentation. People who might never find God in a traditional church service are encountering him at Lifetree.
What makes Lifetree so unique is that it’s built around the spiritual hunger people experience today. It delivers the Gospel in a way people are starving for it. And it seems to be very effective at reaching men.
Now let me be clear: I am NOT saying we should do away with church as we know it. But we can’t just keep planting Sunday morning worship services in school gyms and pretend we’re offering the world what it needs. That model already exists – and it works well for millions of people.
But what about the unchurched? I’m convinced there are millions of men in our world who would love to be discipled if there were a model of church that met their needs more directly. Do we have the courage to pray and innovate? To deliver something people want, need and can’t get anywhere else?
For more information on David Murrow and Church For Men, visitwww.churchformen.com. You can contact David, check his speaking calendar, order autographed copies of his books and DVDs, and learn lots of ways to make your congregation more welcoming to men and boys. See you there.