It is a question that is being asked by educators. It is being asked by politicians. The corporate world spends untold amounts of money trying to answer the question.
Religious leaders are also involved in this discussion. At least those who are really leading and not merely “keeping house” are asking the question.
What’s the question?
How do we connect?
Educators wonder how to best connect with students. Politicians want to connect with voters. Those who have a product to sell or a service to offer want to connect with consumers and those who would benefit from what they have to offer.
What about those of us who preach and teach God’s Word? Increasingly, I am hearing of changes that need to be made in wardrobe, facilities, worship styles, communication methods, etc. in an effort to connect with some nebulous group called “the unchurched.”
As kindly as I know how, I would like to suggest that we have already minimized our responsibility by using that term. People outside of Christ are not merely unchurched. They are lost.
It seems to me that the seriousness of that condition means that there are some questions we need to ask and have answered before we ask how we make a connection. These questions are not difficult to understand, but they may be uncomfortable to answer.
Here are some of those questions:
- What or who needs to be connected?
Are we trying to connect the church with society in a way that would make the church “fit in” better with the world? Are we trying to connect people with us? Are we trying to change the message of the gospel (not the methods of presenting the gospel) to connect with modern cultural norms? Who/what needs to be connected? With whom or with what do they need that connection?
- Why does a connection need to be made?
Is our goal “church growth?” Is it really all about numbers? Is it acceptance in the community? Do we want people bragging on us? Exactly why are we so interested in connecting?
Can we truthfully say that our goal is to connect people who are lost with the only hope of eternal salvation available to them? If so, then we need to work on the methods that will best accomplish that. Then, and only then, does the “how” question become relevant.
I’m thinking that we need to get our answers to the “what,” “who,” and “why” questions correct before we tackle the “how” question.