Last week I introduced you to The Dones. Good committed followers of Christ who have decided that the institutional church is largely irrelevant to what God is doing in the world and in their lives. So they walk away, not from engagement, but from their local church. They direct their lives, giving, and service elsewhere.
I have been there, and I get it.
I am not one who believes all ministry has to be done through a local community of faith. We are the Church, and the local manifestation of the community of followers does not have a particular hold on our lives.
I recently was in a large church where the pastor delivered a message on why all tithe must go to the local church. It was perhaps the most tenuous exposition of (or, perhaps the best imposition on) scripture I have ever heard. Basically, “Let me decide how your tithe will be used.”
Sorry folks, that’s just not biblical.
When American churches spend well over $50,0000 per conversion—and I know the impact that can have on street children in Brazil, or hungry kids in the Sudan, or trafficked women in India who have never heard that Jesus loves them—it is not that tough of a call where to give.
I also know that true followers can have their spirits fed elsewhere. I get a lot from a Friday morning conference call prayer time with some really godly men. Mentoring and Bible study groups can meet discipleship needs as well. These are all the Church, and there is nothing unbiblical about engaging the Body of Christ this way.
But, but . . .
The real danger I see here is not for The Dones, but for what we are doing to the church. By not being engaged locally, we are leaving a vacuum where it is most needed. Young men and women need the example of folks who have spent a lifetime investing lives there. The community needs the local church for the anchor it provides for families and society.
If we have walked away, the local church is going to be crippled.
So how does the church re-engage The Dones?
* Become relevant. Care as much about doing the right things—the things that Jesus did—as we do about believing the right things.
* Spend money on people who are hurting and do not know Jesus loves them.
* Look as often beyond the walls as we look within them.
* Let spiritual pride be crushed by the humility of service.
* Spend less time building kingdoms—and more time building the Kingdom.