“We need more community at our Church.”
“We need more youth events at our church.”
“We need more contemporary music at our church.”
“We need more children’s stuff at our church.”
“We need more outreach at our church.”
“We need more…..”
These are common phrases I have heard from a number of folks who ended up leaving a church they were connected with.
At one time, in my younger and more naive years, I might’ve agreed with them.
I would’ve agreed that too many churches seem to lack “community”.
I would’ve agreed that too many churches seem to only have senior adult ministries and no children’s ministries.
I would’ve agreed that if only the music was more contemporary more young families would come.
I would’ve agreed that if only we did more outreach.
And that’s because I misunderstood community. And I misunderstood community because I misunderstood what it meant to be a Christian and was, what has been commonly coined, a “Consumer Christian”.
Since then here’s what I’ve come to realize…the harsh reality…
What I see out of most people who say they want more “community” is that those people don’t actually want more community.
Saying they want more community is in fact a false narrative to cover up their real intention (whether they recognize it in themselves or not)…which is that they are consumer Christians who consume and never give, and they’ve consumed all their church has to offer and are hungry to consume more.
Sadly, when the Church is no longer focusing on little ol’ them, and unable to appease their consumer appetite…they move on to the next church (usually the newest one in town…since they’ve exhausted all the others) that seems to fit the bill.
And when that church no longer appeases their consumer appetite, they will move to another church again.
It’s a vicious cycle.
See, here’s the cold hard truth….IF they REALLY wanted more community, they would’ve stayed put and helped to foster community in the church they were already connected to. They would’ve served. They would’ve modeled community. They would’ve done everything they could to be…well…a community where they were at.
Changing churches didn’t help them get more community. Changing churches helped them feed their consumerist appetite.
If they really wanted to see a better youth or children’s program, they would’ve connected and done everything they could to help them succeed.
If they really wanted to see more young families in the church, they would’ve made connections with younger families outside of the church and invited them in.
If they really wanted these things…they would not have left the church they were already at.
Building community…REAL community…in a local church takes this special word…”work”. People don’t like that word, and assume that community should just automatically happen. So, instead of being servants we become consumers looking for the insta-community we can latch on to and leech off of until they are sucked dry and we move on to the next insta-community.
All the while not realizing that these insta-communities they are walking into took work to get to where they are and will take work to continue being a community. Which is why they end up leaving that community as well…because they don’t want to put in the necessary work to make a community a community.
The writer of Proverbs hit the nail on the head with this poignant scripture:
Proverbs 13:4 – The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Or when he said:
Proverbs 12:11 – Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.
My challenge is this…if you REALLY want to see community at your church…stay at your church and be the community. If you keep chasing after insta-communities where you can leech without putting in the work to build a community you will never be satisfied and you will never find a community.
And while you’re focusing on yourself, you are leaving frustrated and hurt church communities in your wake.