7. HABIT OF COMING
<The Gift of Presence>
WHAT WILL CHURCH LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE?
“Church, as we’ve known it...is over,” asserts online church specialist, Dave Adamson. One study reported in Forbes Magazine states that 70% of Americans work at least one weekend a month. Busyness makes weekly church attendance a challenge. Will church buildings become like Blockbuster stores in a Netflix world?
“Omnichannel” is one innovative strategy that companies like Home Depot, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Crate & Barrel are using to reach our society distracted by busyness. By making one integrated experience, in-store, online, by app, or on social media, these companies have become more attractive to customers.
In light of what is happening in the business world, could we see church participation INCREASE in a society addicted to busy? Jesus is still calling us, “...On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
The word “church” was an odd word choice for a Jew like Jesus to make. Ekklesia or “church” is a Greek and not a Hebrew word. Ekklesia translates literally as the “called-out-ones.” The word refers to a gathering of all free men in a Greek city to one central theater. Six thousand men would gather to listen, declare war, and to plan strategies.
Jesus’ vision of the church is to call all lonely persons out from isolated worlds to the arena called “the church” where we hear God’s word, declare war on the enemy, and make strategies of loving relationships to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
WRITE your SOAP journal first, and share with a friend.
CAN WE DARE TO DREAM OF INCREASED CHURCH PARTICIPATION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
Our first-world problem of busyness is challenged in these ancient words, “...encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The ANTICIPATION of being together will encourage us to gather together in church.
1. ANTICIPATE ENCOURAGEMENT.
The days we least want to go to church is often the time we should make ourselves go, because it is that very day that God has a special encouragement planned for us (see Hebrews 10:25). Thomas missed out until he returned to church the next Sunday (see John 20:27).
2. ANTICIPATE THE FOOD.
Yes, food! Meals were an a normal part of first-century church: “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). The power of shared meals is what motivates our hospitality on Sundays or at Alpha.
3. ANTICIPATE TEAM GENEROSITY.
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money...” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Giving together multiplies the power of our gifts to do greater good.
4. ANTICIPATE THE HOLY SPIRIT.
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Churches are built by Jesus from people who are like living stones. When we come together, more happens than can be explained because of the Holy Spirit.
5. ANTICIPATE NETWORKING.
In the ancient world, when John was in exile, he could not get off from his desert island to go to church. So he was “in the Spirit” and networked with seven churches across the water (see Revelation 1:10). Thanks to online streaming, social media, cached video files, Facebook groups, and more, we can participate in the church community while far away.
You are busy. So learn to “omnichannel.” Come in person to the campus as often as you can. But when you can’t, then network both with your smartphone as well as with the Holy Spirit!
VERSE OF THE WEEK
“...Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Father, may I think of church as Jesus designed his church. May participation swell, so we make advance the kingdom in our city, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch “Addicted to Busy” by Pastor Brady Boyd, Senior Pastor from New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.
“Church As We Know It Is Over. Here’s What’s Next” by Dave Adamson, Fox News, March 11, 2019.
“Working On The Weekend Is The New Normal And That’s A Bad Thing” by J. Maureen Henderson, Forbes Magazine, April 28, 2017