What do people want when they are looking for a church?
Is the world looking for a bigger church?
Pastors might be. Some church members and potential church-members are—but not as many as you might think.
I’ve been doing some reading about these questions and others like them. I’ve been looking at professional journals, items in print and on-line, and listening to colleagues who are asking the same questions.
Some folks are looking for a bigger church, but if truth be told, when asked if folks want to bigger church, bigger doesn’t even crack the top ten. Most are not looking for a big church. Most are not looking for a program, a special service, flashy bulletins, or the latest technology.
So, what are they looking for?
The answer is surprisingly simple—folks are looking for a better experience. A better experience happens in denominational or non-denominational congregations, it happens in mega churches and smaller congregations. A better experience happens in a church that may be traditional or contemporary.
It seems that people are looking for a congregation that connects faith and life. A church that follows the teachings of Jesus. Folks are looking for a place where the love of Jesus is shared with all people. People want to know why they exist and what they are called to that is greater than self. They want to be a part of a community that they can trust so when life challenges or mistakes happen, they can ask for help, find a response, and grace. They are looking for an invitation to deeper reflection on their relationship with God and each other while sharing faith stories. People want to know the joy of the good news and live it with others who are committed to worshipping Christ, loving others, and caring for the community around them.
That’s a snapshot of an authentic, strong and healthy congregation. None of these characteristics are dependent on the size of a budget or a building. God’s love and a deep abiding relationship shapes everything else.
Well, it does take intentional work by the community of faith, some risks and failures are to be expected, as well as an openness to the Holy Spirit.