Jesus Never Told Us to Fill Church Buildings

People worshiping God inside church. | Unsplash/Sarah Noltner
People worshiping God inside church. | Unsplash/Sarah Noltner

Going to church has never been the point. Jesus didn’t tell us to “work really hard to gather people into large crowds to fill up your church buildings. Then I’ll know that you love me.” But when you look at how most pastors (including me) spend much of our time and energy, sometimes it feels like we think that.

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts and blogs longing for the “good old days” when churches were full on Sunday mornings, evenings and during the week. This expression is especially prevalent on sites where small church pastors tend to congregate.

I understand that longing. After all, I’ve experienced many a Sunday with depressingly small church attendance. But I have three big problems with the “good old days” mindset.

First, the “good old days” weren’t so good.

We have selective memory. If we were transported back there, we’d all want to catch the first DeLorean back to today as fast as we could.

Second, longing for the past is setting ourselves up for defeat.

We can’t go back there! Time travel only works in one direction and at one speed. No church or pastor should ever want to go backward. Let’s honor the past but live in the now and plan for the future.

Third, I don’t want to hear about churches filling up as a sign of revival, renewal or spiritual awakening any more!

I want to hear about churches emptying out. Out into their community to minister, to serve and to share the good news. That’s a greater sign of revival than an increase in church attendance will ever be.

Our world doesn’t need bigger churches or filled-up small churches. We need transformed lives, families, cities and nations. That’s hard to do when all the Christians are cloistered inside church buildings.

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Source: Church Leaders