Over the years, I’ve heard several church-y iterations of John F. Kennedy’s famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” In the church, these words often sound like, “Don’t be just a consumer of your church. Get in there and serve; try to fix the things you think are wrong.” This is an important sentiment, but I think it often backfires. For me, it actually cements unhealthy, unrealistic, and unbiblical expectations of what the church should be: an institution that will meet all my spiritual needs. It allows me to believe that as long as I’m involved in church-related activities, I have a right to criticize the church when it doesn’t live up to my expectations (which are, most of the time, quite different from my actual spiritual needs).
If I Get Her Through the Door . . .
Over the last year, this sentiment grew. As an involved churchgoer, I took my “rights” seriously, and I started to rely on my church to do the work of evangelism for me. And—would you believe it?—I almost left my church out of frustration because I thought the staff wasn’t doing their job.
From my (frustrated) perspective, the sermons seemed either so watered down that they didn’t paint a full picture of Christianity, or they were too deep and abstract for non-Christians to understand. The worship music was off-putting. There was no chance for people to stop, think, and pray during the service. There were few opportunities for new people to connect, and the opportunities that did exist were probably intimidating for them.1