Church people are good-intentioned folk, they really are. But we regularly convince ourselves of some stuff that just looks silly when you take an objective point of view. One of the greatest fallacies I think most churches and even church leaders believe is that they have infinite capacity, or at the very least – much more capacity than they actually have.
Maybe because we’re too nice and maybe because we’re trying to avoid conflicts, we allow so much and start so much in our churches that they end up looking, programattically, like the church version of an episode of Hoarders.
There’s usually one of two problems – the church leadership hasn’t set a clear vision for the church and followed through on needed changes or the church does have a clear vision and is doing good things, but doesn’t stop doing other things. And that’s the real problem: the inability to say “no” or “stop”. Now granted, you can’t just start yelling “no” and “stop” at the top of your lungs at every leader in your church or they will (correctly) label you as a toddler. Saying “no” and “stop” takes relational capital, a consistent record/demeanor and replacing their thing with something the masses will agree is better. And it can be done, but rarely is.
While most people agree that neither we nor our churches have infinite capacity, our actions and decisions (or lack of decisions) often say otherwise. And it comes to us in deceptive ways. For instance, many churches are, even as we speak, trying to become more missional – which is great. However, what almost no churches realize or at least don’t want to realize is that actually being missional may cost them in some ways that hit close to home. It might force them, down the road, to be less liturgical (gasp!). It will probably mean, down the road, that their teenagers will have less biblical and theological knowledge but more ability to meet the needs of others. It might mean, that to be welcoming, your sermons might have to actually be relevant and be less “deep” (whatever that means).
I know everything within you wants to disagree. But I (we) can be missional and liturgical-at-the-same-level or missional and keep our highly-structured chatecatical instruction system. We’ll even call it something clever like missi-turgical worship or chate-mission. But you’re forgetting that, not only are we not people (churches) of infinite capacity, that capacity for all things spiritual & church-based is diminishing generation by generation.
So, if you can do it – if you can truly move a church from being traditional to missional by simply “adding” that focus, please let me know. I’ve got a $10 bill with your name on it. But when you can’t, have some honest conversations about where God is calling you as a faith community to go and what you will have to do to get there. Like a famous person once said via metaphor in Luke 14: “Always count the cost.”