The Church and The World

Sorry if I have been a little negative lately.  I have ben struggling a lot with this dillema, wonderfully illustrated by Jon at ASBOJesus. 

When we look at our missiology there is often a major stumbling block in that we expect people to come to church as their first step.  For many people taking that first step into church isn’t going to happen because of their perception of who/what the church is.  As I have said in a few previous posts, there is a perception of the type of person who goes to church as being posh, dressed in ‘Sunday best’ and complete with ‘holier than thou attitude’.  From the outside the church can be perceived as a very judgemental place to go.  This was certainly my experience as a teenager.  It is certainly the experience of the people I talk to on the streets

I had a recent conversation where we discussed how wonderfully welcoming our congregation was.  They accept anyone on face value with a smile and a genuine offer of friendship.  As I talked about the perception of people outside of ‘the church’ and relayed a conversation I had had earlier in the week I was told “but we aren’t like that here”.

“But no one outside is ever going to find out unless we start looking at being church outside of this building”.

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13 Responses

  1. Its interesting mate that there are a lot of pre concieved ideas about ‘church’ some of which you have outlined in yor post.

    Last week we had a baptism service for my three children at our church. We saw it as a two fold event,

    1. that our children would be taking th enext step along their Journey with Jesus
    2. a powerfull outreach tool to our friends and family

    We invited over 50 non church friends and family plus as i am a leader in a local scout group we invited some of the beavers and cubs to the event as part of their promise and faith badges.

    First of all i have to saythat we are an New frontiers church,so the worship was contempory (rock) based athugh we did sing amazing grace as well and I preached.

    The response we have had is fornominal, people did not realise that church could be a happy, joyous place with friendly people who were really interested in them.

    Many of the non churhc people arecoming back to visit again.

    The problem is of course that the people who came had a strong relationship with my family so when invited some elt they had to come even if they didnt want to. But it does show that if you build relationships ‘outside’ of the church those relationships can lead to people finding Jesus and coming inside of a building to see people worship him in spirit and truth.

    for more on the service and to hear the preach look here http://beatthedrum.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/kids-dunked-god-glorified-and-gospel-preached-but-i-must-remember-not-to-print-my-sermons-out-in-too-small-a-font-then-i-won%e2%80%99t-have-to-%e2%80%98wing%e2%80%99-it-because-i-cannot-read-it/

    now thats what i call a long link!

  2. wow lots of typos and spellys sorry!

  3. Thanks for the input BTD. It illustrates the problem perfectly. Sounds like you did something to address it though!

    Don’t worry about the speelong. I have secial needs in that department so I am not one to judge 😉

  4. Dunno if you have heard of it but our church have done the series “They like Jesus but not the Church” by Dan Kimball with all the cell groups and we are now doing it in the youth group. I have only sat through two sessions but I think it seems really good. It looks at the way that those outside of the Church perceive Church, Christians etc.

  5. Oh and I also quite like the thought of Back to World Sunday.

  6. Have a look at this video I think it answers a lot of the dont like the church comments….

    http://churchinthepeak.org.uk/kevingill/?p=165

  7. James – I have heard of it and looked at parts of it. I have heard a lot said about it but it is still in the pile of books I haven’t had time to read yet. I must get on that!!

    BTD – that is such a good video for saying the right things. I agree with everything that was said.

    It still looks really polished and “sunday best” even though it is saying it isn’t. My experience at the Baptist Church I went to had a theology that stated “we don’t have a uniform that we wear because we are just like everyone else”. They wore a suit and tie… completely unlike the students and working class people of the urban priority area that the church was situated in. And then many of them got into their merc and drove home to their nice houses in the posh areas.

  8. It is quite polished but most people are used to polished media. You dont see much unpolished media in the ‘world’ therefore if the church puts something naff looking out they get slagged off as being second rate and cheap.

    It is also of course american.

    On sunday I preached in shorts and a loose shirt wich is not the norm in my hurch but then i am not the normal preacher .

    People wear what they are comfortable in. Surely to dress differently than what we are comfortable in is to be a hypocrit. Therefore if you are a middle class guy who would wear chinos and a shirt then you should wear chino’s and a shirt not a pair of bondage trousers and a t-shirt sayng never mind the bollocks here’s the sex pistols.

    We have to remember that middle class guys in chino’s also need to be saved not just the ‘kids’ in urban camo trousers and boots….

    We should wear what we wear….. i know i do… having said that what i wear has changed over that time. I was a punk so i DID wear black bondage trousers with a tartan bumflap help up by safety pins…. now im a middle class late 30’s guy who wears trousers or shorts and shirts… thats who I am… but if i wore bindage trousers that would be me being who i no longer am

  9. I agree. You have to have polished professional looking things from the church. That is one of my main problems. I just fired a sarcastic email to my wife with a poster I have been asked to put up that looks like it comes straight from 1972.

    But that wasn’t really my point. They were saying “come as you are” and pointing to a well dressed woman as an example.

    I was actually thinking that Cyril Bruce (RIP) is probably not going to feel that he is welcomed “as he is”. And that is probably the exact oposite of what Jesus was about.

    Please don’t pigeon hole me. I don’t like that.

  10. not actually pigeonhole you robb. I never try to do that as i hate it to… we have guys like that in our church, which is prodominently middle class as it has always been durhm (posh) student based…

  11. No problem. Sorry I prickled. I was sat in a dress shirt with cufflinks 😀

    In the town here if I were to only care about the kids in camo and boots I’d have to cut the congregation down to four plus me. Much more…. rugged than that around here 😉

    I know the tensions in Durham. It is all a fine balancing act. I was on placement just outside the peninsular. The vicar pointed out that you can only realistically face in one direction. Pardon his metaphor but a homeless shelter and a childcare centre can’t realistically operate in the same church hall.

  12. In some ways we have broken (finaly) through those tensions in durham. Our church was started by students and originally aimed at students in the 1980’s.

    Over the years the church has tried to reach out to others in the city but often failed to do so in any significant way.

    However the small success have now meant that the make up of the churhc has changed from 80 – 90 percent academic or ex students to something closer to 50 percent. This has allowed church to authentically reach out to the community from within the community.

    We are now seeing people saved from the local pit villages around the city for the first time and that is having remarkable knock on effect in the way the church talks and behaves. It has brought many challenges but they are being workd through.

    God s at work, not just through us but through others in Durham as well.

  13. Excellent.

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