One of the things about Andy Stanley’s church that impresses me is a study that they did using a Fortune 500 company where they conducted interviews with people in their services who had been in attendance for five weeks or less.
Let me pause and say that this speaks huge volumes about their church when they have enough people passing through on a regular basis that it’s worthwhile to employ a company to survey those who have been there only a very, very short time.
What they found was that many of these people were already interested in “discerning next steps.” They wanted to jump in with both feet and get involved; they wanted to get their hands dirty. (Okay, technically, that would be jumping in with both hands.)
I was reminded of this in a church yesterday when I looked at their bulletin which runs a recurring promotional paragraph about their men’s ministry, and it talks about a couple of social events their group holds a few times each year. I couldn’t help but think, “Okay, but what else do you do?”
I should say that this group does in fact offer some optional missiony things throughout the year — like that word? I just made it up — but they don’t advertise them much. I think people are looking for a cause. I think people who haven’t even crossed the line of faith yet are spiritually savvy enough to realize that Christians, if they are going to bear that name at all, should be about changing the world.
And then, in the evening I came across the Faith In Action site. This California-based organization partners churches with projects. Frankly, I’m not so sure that there ought to be any church in any part of the U.S. that has to engage an outside agency to point them in the direction of need. But what the heck, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt; there are many churches out in the American suburban hinterland that may be a tad isolated from what’s goin’ on down in the ‘hood. Or even what the church down the block is up to, which is another partnership service Faith in Action offers.
They’re also promoting a Faith in Action Sunday on 10/10/10. Nice numeric optics. But people in the inner city, people in need of jobs, people in need of food on their table, people in need of housing, people in need of justice, people in need of medical help, people in need of freedom from addictions, people in need of love, etc.; these people all need help NOW. Not on 10/10/10. It scares me to think a church could be aware of need but decide to hold back until that Sunday. I hope instead that 10/10 is actually the day they do THE REALLY BIG PROJECT.
But I do like their T-shirts. Don’t Go To Church, Be The Church.
Like, a big Amen to that.