know many of you have heard me speak of this before, but I believe it’s worth repeating. Before we had our first public service at Hope on April 3, 1988, we went two-by-two in the Andover community, knocking on doors, and asking these two questions. 1) “Are you presently attending a local church?” If they said “Yes,” we smiled, said “Thank you,” and walked away. If they said “No,” we then asked this question: “Why don’t you attend?”
Twenty-nine years ago, the top three answers why they did not go to church were: 1) The music is boring; 2) I feel like I’m going to a fashion show; 3) All they ever talk about is money. So, we then weighed these answers very carefully and did what we thought best to make sure they were addressed.
Twenty years later, we went back out into the same community, knocked on doors, and asked the same questions. The results were very interesting and demonstrated how quickly our culture had changed in how the church was now viewed. When you boiled down the answers as to why people did not attend the primary answer was: “Why?”
In twenty years, the reason people in Andover did not attend church went from answers which indicated they felt they should go to no longer seeing church as something which was all that relevant or necessary. This should be the cause for some deep pondering.
Because of these changes in culture – where church is no longer seen as necessary or relevant – many church experts now scratch their heads and formulate ideas as to how we can now be attractive to nonbelievers. Many books and blogs have been written and much debate and speculation has and is taking place. Here’s my two cents:
When Jesus was asked about which of the commandments were of most importance, in other words, what was most important to do in life, He answered this in Mark 12:29-31: 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I have a brilliant and profound idea! How about we just start taking Jesus at His Word? How about we start acting like Jesus knows what He’s talking about and what’s best for the world and us? The most effective way to be relevant in the lives of others is to love God with all we have and our neighbor (those in need) which, by the way, happens to be everyone! Plus please note, this means we must also learn to love ourselves, because until we can learn to love ourselves we can never really learn to adequately love others. This means we must learn to treat people like we want to be treated. To show them compassion, friendship, respect, grace, mercy, forgiveness, generosity, joy, and love.