John Squiric - CEO Truth Advertising
People Want to Return to GOD but not the Local Church
I recently watched the film Jesus Revolution. It depicts the true story of the counterculture movement in the 1970s that spawned the most significant spiritual awakening in American history. AND IT ALL STARTED with one Pastor inviting someone to Church who did not look like him or anyone in his congregation. I will repeat it for clarification. One Pastor, extending one invite, spawned modern history's most significant church movement. I do not discount the work of the Holy Spirit in the movement, but the surface-level events are clear.
As of Feb 27th, the movie shattered all expectations. What was expected to bring in $6-$7 million has finished number 3 at the box office and has thus far brought in an estimated $16 million, and it's not close to being over. Hollywood critics gave it a score of 53%, while audiences rated it 99%.
You may not be interested in the movie. You may be offended by it. You may think the producers hid some of the faults behind the men involved that should have been disclosed. But as a church leader, you should pay attention to it; if you have not watched it yet, you should. It is clear by the interest in this movie and the recent revivals happening on college campuses around the country something is going on.
I am in the business of helping churches grow, and right now, I see a cultural shift coming where people want to return to God. However, they don't necessarily want to return to Church. At least not the "idea" of what they think the Church is. This generation and those who do not attend church are cynical and skeptical. Most feel the local church has nothing to offer them. Or they feel they are too broken or sinful to attend Church.
As a church, are you asking your congregation to invite people to visit your Church this Easter Sunday? I would imagine you are. I would hope you are! But what are you doing as a church besides asking your congregation to carry the load and fill your seats on Easter Sunday?
Are you, as church leaders, deliberately reaching out to the lost and broken people in your community who desperately need the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and what do you have to offer them?
Are you inviting people to your Church?
Do you love your neighbors enough to step out in faith and shoulder some of the burdens you put on your congregation to invite people to Church this Easter? Please hear my heart. Yes, I am in the church marketing business, but I am not trying to sell you anything. It's Easter. We have plenty of business and are just fine as a company. God has always blessed us and our work and will continue to bless us as long as He sees fit. I am asking you to put some effort into inviting people to Church this Easter, outside of asking your congregation to pray and invite their friends and family.
What can you do?
Use Social Media and post about Easter.
Print invite cards so your congregation has something to hand out.
Go door to door and invite people.
Put out door hangers.
Buy a billboard.
Do some direct mail.
Put up a banner.
Have an Easter egg hunt and advertise it.
Give members a post-it note or something similar they can write down the name of a person they will pray for each day to attend Church on Easter Sunday.
The list can go on, but you get the point. The most significant church revival in modern history began with one Pastor inviting one person. What are you doing as the Church to spark a revival in your community?
I mentioned earlier that - I see a cultural shift coming where people want to return to God. However, they don't necessarily want to return to Church. At least not the "idea" of what they think the Church is...
What do they want?
Let me put it to you this way. If a hiker falls down a 50ft crevasse in the ice, and both legs are broken, will you offer him the gospel? Probably not; his immediate need is to stop the pain and fix his broken legs.
Eighty percent of your local community is in pain. They are lost, broken, addicted, and searching for something like the hippies in the movie "Jesus Revolution." What do you have to offer them as a church? Do they even know you exist and care enough about them that you want to help? Sure, you have the Gospel, which is Good News. But they have just fallen down a 50ft crevasse in the ice; they need immediate attention.
What can you do?
Do you have a 12-step program to help them heal from addictions with the help of Jesus Christ?
Do you have a marriage program to fix broken marriages and unite couples by centering their marriage around Jesus?
Do you have a youth program to help teens navigate their environment that allows them to develop Godly friendships?
Do you have small groups where people can get out of isolation and fellowship with other believers?
Yes, they need the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they are so consumed with their immediate surface-level "funk" they can't hear it.
I am not saying you have to have all this. But offer a real-life solution to the pain the people in your community may be experiencing. Be accepting of people right where they are in life with all their mess. You may be the church that turns someone's mess into a message.
You can choose to stay in the lane you are comfortable in right now. What I am saying is as a church, you should have these programs. And the churches I know (which are many) that do have these programs are bringing people to Christ and experiencing growth as a result.