"I have no intention of stepping foot in a church. Ever. For any reason."

"I have no intention of stepping foot in a church. Ever. For any reason." That's the conviction of an increasing number of people in Western culture. Europe is a little ahead of America in secularization, and in many ways we can look at Europe to see what America is on its way to becoming. With that in mind, what J. D. Greear writes in his new book Gaining by Losing is arresting (p. 30):
A British friend of mine, Steve Timmis cites a recent study in Great Britain in which 70 percent of Brits declare that they have no intention of ever attending a church service for any reason. Not at Easter. Not for marriages. Not for funerals or Christmas Eve services. For more than two-thirds of the people in Great Britain, nothing will carry them naturally into a church. In light of this, Steve comments: 
That means new styles of worship will not reach them. Fresh expressions of church will not reach them. Alpha and Christianity Explored courses will not reach them. Great first impressions will not reach them. Churches meeting in pubs will not reach them. . . . The vast majority of un-churched and de-churched people would not turn to the church, even if faced with difficult personal circumstances or in the event of national tragedies. It is not a question of “improving the product” of church meetings and evangelistic events. It means reaching people apart from meetings and events. (Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012, 15)
I have never seen a statistic that so clearly indicates the reality facing the church of tomorrow in America. The vast majority of people will have no intention of attending a Christian church service. Ever. For any reason.

Greear describes the very awkward experience of honoring his Muslim friend by going along to a worship service at the mosque. Greear was always a step or two behind everyone else and felt completely out of place. That's how more and more people feel about going to a Christian church service.

So what does Greear recommend? The main message of his book is that the church has to recover its mission to make disciples. How? Make the church into a perpetual sender of grateful people. That's different from being a hoarder of comfort-seeking people.

Importantly, Greear never advocates doing away with organized churches with their meetings and events. In fact, he is a strong advocate of planting lots of new churches. it's really about recovering the "sending" priority of the church.

As I observed in Luminous, there are 42 instances in the Gospel of John where Jesus refers to himself as "sent" by his Father. And in John 20, Jesus transferred his "sent-ness" to his disciples. The church of the future is one that takes Jesus seriously, including that key word "sent."

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