Pastors that I know who lead large churches tell me that they’ve lost literally hundreds of members due to the pandemic shutdowns. These people neither watch online nor have returned to church when in person services resume. This phenomena has led to discussions about what the church will look like after covid19, which has led many to say that we’ll need to “rethink” and “redo” how we do church in the future and will need to “relaunch” after the pandemic is over. In other words, we’ll need to be creative and “think outside the box” in order to entice these people back to church.
How sad. I believe that the loss of so many people who have decided not to return to church is just a symptom of a deeper problem – many of those who attended church in the past weren’t really in love with Jesus. Their relationship with Him was shallow, and they did not have a solid biblical and theological foundation. They occupied a chair or place on a pew on Sunday mornings, but their heart was far from Him.
Which brings up the cause for this tragedy – the church didn’t build them up in their faith. All this talk about “revamping how we do church” is a serious indictment that we weren’t “doing” church correctly before the pandemic hit, and covid19 just exposed this.
The church today is saturated with lots of “stuff” – myriads of programs, high energy praise bands, the latest technology, latte bars and lounges, rock star pastors that exude “cool”, and services that include movie clips, skits, interpretive dance, motivational sermons, and a casual laid back atmosphere where we are encouraged to come and “have fun”.
I wonder, where is Jesus in all of this?
Sadly, while His name in mentioned in church services, He is not the focus. The focus, unfortunately, is on everything but Him. If we had put the focus on Him, this idea of “redoing” and “relaunching” church would be moot. In the last 30 years or so the church became so clever and cute that it forgot that it exists for one purpose – to bring Him glory. Worship services are supposed to be just that – times to worship Him collectively as a church family. Sermons were supposed to be geared to help Christians grow deeper in their faith, not to give a theologically light feel good motivational speech centered on “me”. Praise bands were supposed to lead us into the presence of our awesome God and set the atmosphere for true worship, not to entertain us with their dazzling array of skills and smoke and mirrors performance. Programs were supposed to enhance our spiritual growth, not be times of social activity with just a smattering of theological content.
We got it all wrong.
If we were doing it right, we wouldn’t feel the need to redo that way we do church in order to get people that we lost to to church. Being innovative, having more programs, enhancing the technology we use in the service, exuding more “cool” and being more “relevant” aren’t the answer. Jesus is.
Jesus is enough.
If we had just focused on Jesus to begin with, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the situation we currently are in. If we would have just kept it simple and poured our energies into magnifying Him and going deep into His word, that would have been enough. My friends, Jesus is ALWAYS enough. If people would have really known Him deeply and had a deep love for Him, they would flock back to church because they want to know Him more and worship Him with their church family.
Jesus is enough.
The enemy has distracted us with many other things to get our focus off of the One who was, is, and always should be the main focus of everything. There’s nothing wrong with simple Christianity. We don’t need latte bars, fancy bands, overbooked church calendars to keep people busy, or every technological gadget on the market. We need to magnify Jesus. When we highlight these other things, the focus gets placed on them. When we highlight Jesus, the focus gets placed on Him. And that is where it is supposed to be. When He is the center of all we do, everything else takes care of itself.
Is it time to “redo” the way we do church? Yes! It’s time to make all the other “stuff” in church smaller and make Jesus bigger. It’s time to simplify things and focus on Him. it’s time to build a strong, unshakeable foundation in people by going deep into Scripture. It’s time to guide people into a deep, intimate relationship with Him.
In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, and [we] must decrease”.
Jesus is enough!!