How big is your church?

Posted: October 9, 2012 by efenster in Ideas, Stories

I was sitting last month at my son’s high school tennis match watching him play.  To my right was one of my son’s teammates and three of his buddies.  He was waiting his turn to play, and while he waited he and his friends spent the entire match talking about stabbings and shootings, as though these topics were completely normal.  At one point, one boy, who was wearing a shirt that said in capital letters “HIGH ON F_K,” said that if he doesn’t get a job when he leaves high school that he’ll commit a crime so that he can be taken care of in prison.  I told him I hoped that he got a job!

The next day I went to a meeting of a group of us trying to start a new United Methodist Church in my neighborhood.  I kept thinking about those four boys and their conversation.  And then it hit me, “So just how big is this church you’re hoping to start?  Is it big enough for these four boys and all the others they represent?”  God continues to disturb me with that question.  “How big is your church?”

Later that week my wife ran into a parent of one of the tennis players on the opposing team.   Although my son is in a public high school, his team happened to be playing a Christian parochial school in town.  All this parent said about the match was how terrible it was that the school didn’t do anything about the boy wearing the shirt with the offensive message.  Is that how we Christians and our churches typically react.  We’re more concerned about not being offended than the person behind the offense?  

No wonder a new Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study shows that the “Nones” are on the rise, that is the number of Americans who are not affiliating with any religious group is increasing.  The study shows that my generation, the Boomers, on down to the young Millenials, all have more “nones” than ever.  In fact, a third of the generation of those four high school boys at the tennis match don’t affiliate with any religious group.  Is our church big enough to reach them?  Obviously they won’t be care about us until they know how much we care for them.  Do we really care?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

  1. Debbie says:

    Ed, great points to ponder. I think we often look at the outside of a person and forget that God loves the person on the inside. We need to be looking through God’s eyes.

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