The greatest resource your church has is not your staff or building. It’s your people.
Remember the old hand gesture rhyme we all learned as kids? “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors, and where are all the people?” Since the church was never a building, let’s focus on people. The church’s future depends on discipling and multiplying future generations.
In the 1980s, there was an expectation for the people to be in the church. “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” Where are the people? They are in the pews protected by the building under the steeple.
The church was never a building.
In the 1980s, maybe this was the correct way to think. The first place people spent most of their time was in their homes. Second place was at work. The goal then was to elevate the church to third place. As the church has declined 25% in 25 years, should we be focused today on getting “all the people” under the steeple?
Where Are All the People?
Are we asking why the people are walking away from the church? Is it because of racial tensions, distrust, or moral failure of leaders? Do they prefer watching church from home or have better things to do on Sundays? And are they trying to distance themselves from the church building, the church body, or God?
The reality is we’ve done a decent job at dechurching people.
The Church Isn’t the Building
Don’t be upset that people are not in your building. Be upset they have no spiritual purpose when they’re not in your building.
It was never about the building. Measuring people in seats and views online are analytics that shows a product’s consumption. This is how the world measures success. They look at the number of views, downloads, subscribers, hours, or sales. They’re literally measuring consumption.
The church needs to be more than consuming a product. It’s not that our church product is bad. It’s that our product isn’t God.
Perhaps churches, in an effort to reach people, have made it all about the church. We’ve created a Sunday morning product that’s powerful, beautiful, but unfortunately ineffective. Does our focus need to change? Ironically, John the Baptist, after coming face to face with Jesus, came to a revelation: “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, NASB).
It’s Not About Me
The future of our churches and Christianity boils down to the simple fact that our lives and ministry are not about us. Our battlefield is not in our facilities but our communities. If we want to address the church’s PR problem, we need to get out of the building.
Does your church have campus pastors? Make them community pastors! Are you used to people coming to you? It’s time to seek them. Culture has shifted, and our church’s future depends on us going, not them coming. Let’s work toward a society where we don’t need to hide God in our buildings.