I used to be a normal church attender living in a weird world.
The references to normal and weird from this post were influenced by Seth Godin’s new book We Are All Weird. He explains these concepts in a much more detailed and entertaining way in the book than I can in this post.
Godin speaks of how the world is becoming weirder. More and more of us are falling outside the normal distribution of people. If you are a marketer this is an important idea because it makes it less effective to market toward the normal.
If you are a church leader, it matters for you too.
It used to be that going to church was normal.
Everybody went. Everybody joined. Everybody put money in the offering basket. Everybody went to prayer meeting.
We were all active church members because we had to. It was important to be considered normal in a normal world.
Go to church or everybody in your community will know that you aren’t all that interested in God.
Go to church or some might stop patronizing your business.
Go to church because your parents did, and you always have, so you might as well. Just because.
Go to church because if you don’t, then you will go to hell.
As a result, pews were full. Offering plates heavy. The parking lot crowded.
After all, who wants to go to hell?
Then the weird became more normal.
And people stopped going to chruch.
People stopped worrying about whether or not you cared if they went. Business became about business, not about church. Fewer and fewer people grew up going at all. Fewer people believe in hell.
One of Godin’s points is that it is important to understand your audience. If people are weird, then your normal way of doing things is not likely to work. To influence them you have to first attract them.
Weird people are not attracted to the normal.
Many of the traditional ways of doing church are the old normal way. Hard pews. Boring songs. Long sermons about hell.
Despite this people went. It did not matter if the church met any needs. It was simply normal to go.. But now people don’t care. I know its hard to admit this, but it is important.
How can we preach the gospel if nobody is listening?
The weird that was always the normal.
Instead of expecting people to come to church just because everyone used to, now we have to actually give them a good reason.
And we have that good reason. It’s called grace.
It has always been normal to need grace. We are all sinners. We are all broken.
But for far too long the church has not offered it. We judged others. We were dishonest. We built communities based on expectation and outward moralism.
But not grace.
If the church is to be effective in a weird world, it’s time to be normal. It is time to be honest and confess sin. It is time to meet people right where they are instead of expecting them to be like us. It is time preach that it is okay to not be okay.
Apart from the gospel are any of us really okay?
To share God’s scandalous grace, your church might need to become less normal. You might need to change your service. You might need to change how you try to reach people.
You probably need to become weird, in a normal sort of way.
Is your church weird? Are you normal? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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