Since last October, I have been learning something new nearly every day about the church. Not this church, but THE church. I've been seeing things from a new perspective, because I've never worked at a church before.
I know the newspaper business fairly well and can understand the difficulties those in that field face. But the struggles of a church staffer were completely new to me before October of 2006.
I am a graphic designer for a large church (maybe a mega-church, I'm not sure what the cutoff is) and, as such, I'm at least partially responsible for how the church is presented to those who attend, and those who don't. I never thought about what a big deal that was until I began to hear discussions and sit in on meetings about how to present a single idea.
There's definitely some strategy involved every time you try to present something to a large group of people. First, you've got to understand the different types of people in the group. Then, you've got to decide which type is the target audience. On top of that, you need to make an attempt to send a message that will resonate with that target audience, while not alienating the rest of the group to the point that they are turned off.
I'm not writing this to show you how difficult my job is, but to make a point about what a difficult job the church has. The difference between the world view of a 65-year-old and that of a 22-year-old is monumental. But the church must reach them both, and every world view in between. And this is not even considering the differences in those who follow Christ and those who don't!
So, when I start thinking about all these challenges, and the role I play in helping my church present itself, I start wondering how relevant I am to the people I'm trying to reach.
I'm a 30-year-old white male who has lived all his life in Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana. Most of you probably understand at least some of the implications of that background. But how many people in my church last Sunday had a different upbringing than mine? How am I supposed to be able to reach them?
This is one of the problems the church is facing today. How do we reach those outside the church when we may not be able to identify with them? How do we make church relevant to them?
I bet you're expecting some kind of wonderful answer, but I don't have one. I know that I struggle with being in the world, but not of the world. I don't ever want this place to become my home, but I want the people of this world to know my savior.
A couple websites I've found have helped me with this dilemma: churchrelevance.com and churchmarketingsucks.com.
Thankfully, there is something the church can do to reach all people, no matter what age, race, gender, income level or world view - LOVE THEM!
That is the biggest lesson I've learned over the past few months. Everybody wants to be loved. And, how do you love people? SERVE THEM!