If I ask any member of your church who is welcome to attend your church, what answers would I hear? In most cases it would be the same, “Everyone is welcome!” Yet, when I walk into your worship service whom will I see? Will I see numerous ethnicities and various socio-economic groups? Will the congregation reflect the population of the neighborhoods around your church? What draws certain people groups to particular churches and deflects other groups?
Perhaps one key is the culture within the church. Is it possible that the culture within most of our churches is narrow in its focus, to one or two particular groups of people? Walk into most churches across the U.S. and you will find that almost everyone in the building looks very similar. You will find 95+ percent in any church are of the same ethnicity, dressed alike, and in close proximity in socio-economic status. Is there a biblical reason causing us to attract people who are like us and to deflect others?
No. There is no biblical reason. But it is easier to attract those like us. It is within our comfort zone and requires less work. Also, there are worship practice differences amongst ethnic groups. As each of us has grown up in or been part of a particular worship atmosphere, we tend to favor that style and worship order. We consider our custom of worship to be the true reverence in worship. This is where every church builds its worship culture. Unfortunately, it becomes a high hurdle for outsiders – except those who are accustomed to “our worship” culture.
What could God do within your community if your church transitioned its culture to truly accept anyone whom He brings you in contact with? I’m not only speaking of your style of worship. This article is about the culture in your church. Believe it or not the culture inside your church membership will and does keep people from joining you, even for one visit. The church in North America is missing a culture of connection.
How do you begin to develop a culture of connection? Well, first, you may not believe this but, first must be prayer. And the first prayer -concerted effort from the body of believers- must be to repent and ask God to reveal to you the walls inside your church that have been erected that keeps people from joining you in worship and service. Not an easy task, but those walls must be demolished. This can only be accomplished by God.
Second, to create a culture of connection we must understand that our assignment is not to clone newcomers to be “like us”. We are to equip them to be like Christ. Instead of holding them at arm’s length until “they have proven themselves,” we must view every person who will join us in our spiritual community as a gift from God revealing that our work in His kingdom is not yet finished.
Third, we need to surrender our King of the Mountain ministry mindset. Like the childhood game, we often kick, push and shove any new ideas of ministry out of the building, clinging to our decade’s old traditions of ministry. Many of which have borne no fruit for years. A culture of connection can be a birthplace for new engaging ministry opportunities.
To create a culture of connection in your church, pray. Pray that God would loose you from the shackles that bind His ministry and keep others from joining in His work. God has a plan. How many in the community around you could God bring in when your church culture becomes a culture of connecting people of all statuses to Him?