Someone offered me a free trial at their gym yesterday. In our conversation I got the impression that he was more interested in me joining his gym than he was in me becoming fit. I’ve recently lost just over 3 stone through using an exercise bike and through sensible (well mostly anyway) diet and I explained that and said I was going to continue with that as a cheaper option that is working for me. He replied instantly that I should go to his gym because their bikes have built in TV screens I explained that I had found this distracting in another gym and so I hadn’t exercised properly (read more about that here) but he still tried to persuade me to sign up.
He didn’t congratulate me on my weight loss or say anything like ‘I’m glad you have found something that works for you’. It felt like his ultimate goal was to gain new customers rather than to help people get fit in a way that was easier or convenient for them.
I wonder if Christians are ever like this? Are we more interested in getting people into our church or in helping them to follow Jesus? When someone needs a prayer because they are stressed are we willing to do just that or do we have to pressure them into feeling like they should come to us on a Sunday? One of the first questions that church leaders often ask each other when they meet is ‘how big is your church?’ I guess for most people it’s a way of beginning to describe a church but I also wonder if for some it’s a way of keeping score.
I wonder how many churches would employ Jesus if he was physically on the earth today? His agenda wasn’t to get bums on seats on a Sunday, rather he wanted people to know his heavenly father. He didn’t pander to people’s needs to get the most followers, in fact on one occasion everyone left him apart from his closest disciples because his teaching was too challenging (John 6 v66). He hung around with people that the religious people disapproved of rather than getting the religious people on his side in order to swell the numbers of his congregation.
Jesus was more focused on God than he was on gathering a large group.
Jesus was more interested in having genuine followers than he was in gathering a crowd.
He was more interested in loving the outcast than he was in making his supporters feel that they were more important than anyone else.
He was more interested in challenging his followers than he was in keeping them happy.
I think the way that we are being church at Orchard Baptist is great (although it is also far (and I mean really far) from perfect). I would love for more people to come to our services on a Sunday and experience God in the way we worship and communicate about Him but what I want more than this is for people to find and know God for themselves. Join Orchard Baptist and I guarantee at some point we will disappoint you because we are human and imperfect (I hope it would be after a really long time though). Following God though, asking him to live in you, to change you and to lead you through life, that is something really worth doing.
The salesman tried to sell me membership but I wanted him to care about my fitness. My prayer is that we wouldn’t make it our priority to sell Church, rather we would genuinely want people to know about and follow Jesus.