The Church has so little influence over culture because culture has so much influence over the Church.
We structure our ministries after the most well-run companies, and we teach our pastors from the best good-to-great leadership books. We have solid video, because we’ve watched and duplicated what works in Hollywood and often regurgitate the most powerful movie clips. Go to nearly any church service in the country, and you’ll be greeted with the same worship first and then 25-35 minute sermon–market research tells us this is best for people’s attention spans. After all, we have to be relevant, right?
But what if…
We didn’t care how many people came to church; we focused solely on how deeply and radically those who came were transformed? What if we pushed relevance to the side and prayed about how deep, how wide, how long, and how high our love was for Christ and our neighbor? What if we didn’t employ large staffs at our church, but began to rely on us, the tentmakers, to be the mouthpiece of our Lord?
I understand that it takes money to run and sustain a ministry and that we are called to be good stewards of our resources, but I’d be happy to tithe even more than my share to a ministry that was taking risks, being innovative, and dare I say it, jumping out in faith. Non-believers don’t follow us for one reason alone–we don’t lead. Christians are too often imitators, late adopters, and risk averse. And I don’t see any of those qualities in our Savior.
Marginally different won’t cut it. The Church and its people have to be radically different in how we think, and most important, in how we live. And if we fail–meaning we are ostracized by our neighbors and not accepted by our culture–then we will have succeeded by joining Christ in suffering for the Cause. The greatest story ever told does not need a platform, a licensing deal, a conference, or a whiz-bang marketing approach. It only needs obedient and faithful disciples willing to be what our Lord was. Different.