And that’s OK.
Many people think about church like I think about my kids’ soccer team — on the way to and from the game. That’s about all. I don’t sit at home during the week wondering how their corner-kick strategy is coming.
In the same way, many people think about church on Sundays as they drive to and from the service. If they volunteer or are in a group, it might be more.
But even when they think about church, it’s usually about the people they know and the relationships they have. It’s about something they learned about God or how they want to grow spiritually.
It’s rarely about whether we should call them “small groups” or “community groups” or “missional communities.” They’re not thinking about how it would help your admin staff if they paid attention to announcements and registered for events in advance. They are definitely not thinking about how to re-structure staff or service times to maximize numerical growth. It’s a rare person who is concerned about multiplying his small group.
But pastors obsess over these things.
And we should. But we shouldn’t expect the regular folks in the congregation to share our obsession.
People have lives. People are busy. They have families to raise, jobs to do, hobbies to pursue, and plenty of stuff to keep them active. If they’re doing well, they’re exercising regularly and spending devotional time with God. They really do want to grow and be closer to God.
But the mechanics of church are not part of their top priorities.
So, pastors, let’s stop:
- Imagining that church is on everybody’s mind.
- Guilting people for not keeping up with every change we make.
- Minimizing their thing (life) while trying to maximize our thing (church).
- Emphasizing everything as important (in turn, emphasizing nothing)
Instead, let’s start:
- Meeting people where they’re at.
- Esteeming people’s other commitments and interests.
- Appreciating the highly-invested volunteers and leaders who do care, serve, and give much more than others.
- Committing to helping people grow their faith, not just grow our church.
- Communicating with creativity about the few important things we do want them to care about.
Pastor, your people are glad that you think about church a lot. Somebody needs to. The church is Jesus’ “Plan A” and there is no “Plan B.” Thank you for caring. Thank you for thinking. Thank you for praying. Thank you for strategizing.
Just realize that they’re not going to do it as much as you and, please, try to be OK with that.