WHAT ARE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR IN CHURCH?
It's a good question. Why do people join a church? What is it that attracts them in the first place? What is it that motivates them to make a commitment and stay involved?
Over recent years, thousands of people (both inside and outside church) have been asked questions like these. Answers given fall into some general categories. Dr. Kenneth Haugk, founder and director of Stephens Ministries describes these categories as: SPIRITUALITY, COMMUNITY, CARE, MINISTERING.
The needs are biblical and basic, describing our relationship with God and one another. A church's success in meeting these four needs determines its' health. Haugk goes on to suggest these four provide a
blueprint for planning and framing ministry. This coming fall Pastor Heath Curtis will lead us in strategic planning, with that in mind the June, July, and August news article will explore these needs beginning with . . . SPIRITUALITY.
My soul yearns for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Ps 84.2 Spirituality is the work of the Spirit; a new creation reality within the Christian heart. It is the life Mary sought listening to Jesus as well those Greek men who came to disciples and said,
Sirs we want to see Jesus.
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Spiritual hunger is satisfied only in His Word and gifts; the bread of life, the living water that Jesus promised. It is the life God offers and gives; the top of the list of what a church might offer. Filled with the Spirit, individuals seek to learn about God, to listen to His Word, to learn to pray, to grow in discipleship and stewardship as His holy people.
Not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. Zechariah 6.4 The need for spirituality, ('New Creation' life in Christ) is met only within the Holy Christian church. First, it is met in worship as we receive His gifts of grace in Word and sacrament. In response the people of God offer thanks, praise, prayer, offerings, and all God gives us to offer in holy lives of letting His light shine. Second, the need for spirituality is met in the personal - devotion life of every Christian. Third, our spiritual hunger is nourished as we take up His word in bible study and Christian education. Fourth, spirituality must include whole-life stewardship of time, talent, and treasure.
Works without faith never save, but saving faith is never without works. M Luther. Jesus said,
The wind blows wherever it pleases . . . so it is with everyone born of the Spirit. Perhaps more than ever before the church must find new ways to gather young and old around the Word. For it is the Word of life, the sword of the Spirit, by which the wind works for our good, bears forth His fruit, and 'looses' the gifts of the Spirit.
All these gifts are activated by one and the same Spirit . . . just as the Spirit chooses. 1 Corinthians 12.11
So what does this mean for you? Let worship be the center-ring, not the side-show of your life. Don't let anything keep you and your family from worship. It's fact and true that God intends your discipleship to be an 'on-going' reality; take serious God's invite
Stay in step with the Spirit. Make effort to be creative in finding ways to incorporate your life with Christ: PARTICIPATE by devotion, prayer, study, VBS, Sunday school.
And let it be very clear: The example of parents GREATLY influences children. Jesus said,
Let the little children come to me. Of the all the life-needs of a child this is the need that we must not neglect.
Train up a child in the way of the Lord and when he is old he will not depart from it. Dear parents of Zion: What will you make of God's word for your little ones? What do you gain? What do you risk if not? While most parents take all kinds of measures to safe guard loved ones from danger . . . what about evil? Will God's word and spirituality be only side-show in your family's life? Come before His presence with singing and He will equip you and your loved ones to stand against evil.
What are people looking for in a congregation? It's been said there are basically 2 kinds of church: Maintenance-minded or mission-minded. Anybody can be maintenance-minded - Just spend your energy, resources, and money on yourself. Being mission-minded requires an outward focus and requires 'wind' power. It's what Jesus was speaking of when He said to His disciples,
Go back and wait for the Spirit. Acts 1.4
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