For the last year, I’ve become pretty deeply immersed in the online social networking craze. I’ve been a casual social networker since the Myspace “olden days”, and like most people, made the switch to Facebook a few years ago. I maintain 25+ social media accounts for the company I work for, but really only keep up with a personal Facebook account away from work. I’ve also blogged professionally as a web content manager for a couple of my most recent employers, but I’ve never blogged away from work on topics that I’m really passionate about. It’s time to change that. Enter ChurchSurfer. This will be my contribution to the online community about what I feel is something that needs attention…and maybe God will use this to make a difference in someone’s life out there. Stranger things have happened.
Here are a couple of rhetorical questions to make you think about the current state of your social Christian life. How many people at your church do you consider close personal friends? How many of your close personal friends are active Christians? How many people do you have a conversation with when you go to church service (not counting casual greetings)? If you are like me, the answers to these questions are shameful and embarrassing. No members of any church I have attended since adulthood have ever become close personal friends to me. Only a handful of the people who are my close personal friends are active Christians. At an average church service I probably don’t have a real conversation with anyone, and most interaction could be described as small-talk or casual greetings. I’m sure the enemy just loves this! Christians are meant to be close, connected, communal, loving, giving. We are supposed to be family to each other. I think of the Bible verse “as iron sharpens iron, so does brother sharpen brother.” But if we aren’t living up to God’s desire for us to be a tightly knit community of believers, we are actually becoming lonely Christians, starved and deprived of brotherly and sisterly love.
My newly invented word for the world is “churfing”. This is derived from church surfing, which could be also be called church hopping, and is similar to bar hopping or surfing the web. This is how I would describe my church attendance over the last 10+ years. Part of the problem is that my wife, Laura, and I have moved so many times I’ve lost count. But even when we’ve settled in one place for a year or two, we struggle to get connected to a single church. We’ve found churches where we really liked the messages and the worship, but never got connected to people. We’ve found it harder to get connected to people in churches than it is to walk in to the White House unannounced and get a meeting with the President. We’ve signed up for home groups, sent emails, turned in attendance cards with requests on them, and the end result has always been the same. Nobody has ever gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and invite us into their church community…and I suspect we’re not the only ones who have experienced this problem. I fear that in the younger generations, it’s only getting worse.
Flip the Script
I could go on and on, but by now you should get the idea of what I think is a major problem in churches today. They can be perceived by an outsider as being more exclusive than inclusive, which is contrary to the very core of what I believe Jesus wanted for the world when he gave the Great Commission to go out and make disciples of all nations. So beginning now, I want to flip the script on churches. I will attempt to go to a different church service every week and write about my experiences there on this blog. I’m guessing that this should not only be some pretty entertaining reading, but will hopefully help me gain and share some insight on what Christians do, say, think, and believe. Maybe through this process God can use me to help churches and Christians look inwardly to see how they may be perceived from the outside and how they can become more inviting and accommodating, more internally connected, and to focus on the relationships among the people. I don’t know how this will end up, but I’m looking forward to finding out…I hope you’ll join me!