The Mother of All Culture Shifts

Repeat after me:

It’s not  – and never again will be  – about getting new members.

This Church Needs One More FamilyOn the heels of Mothers’ Day, I’ve been thinking about a couple of important and unimportant things:

  • An historic Mother Church is counting down to a terrible anniversary in forty days.
  • KFC’s biggest sales day is – not kidding about this – Mothers’ Day. Lots of moms got buckets of chicken yesterday.
  • Denise Anderson and I will be visiting The Mother Ship in Louisville in a couple weeks to prepare for our stand as Co-Moderator of the PCUSA.

As I meet with church leaders and am asked how to get young families to join the church time and time again, I realize that The Mother of All Church Culture Shifts is this one:  It’s not and never again will be about getting new members.

As always, the question is “why?”

  • Why are we offering a Bible study in the back room of a bar on Wednesday nights?
  • Why are we starting a new worship service on Sunday nights?
  • Why are we feeding homeless adults on Friday nights?
  • Why are we opening a pre-school?

It’s not about getting people to join our churches.  It’s about making disciples. It’s about serving the community.  It’s about loving our neighbors.  It’s about loving God.

It’s never, ever again about building the membership and subsequently adding to our coffers and subsequently helping our congregations survive.  Jesus didn’t die to perpetuate an institution.

Old message.  Saying it one more time.  Thanks for reading.

Image of a church sign seen on vacation a few years ago.  Never let anyone put this message on your church sign.

7 responses to “The Mother of All Culture Shifts

  1. pastorjanshannon

    Thank you! After last night’s contemporary worship service, which was created to serve LGBTQ ex-evangelicals, and whose numbers were way down…I needed to hear this. Thanks.


  2. Cheyanna Losey


    I have found the fight against this misunderstanding is less with the congregation I serve and more at the higher levels of the denomination. It is difficult to enter a productive conversation with other clergy and denominational leaders when there is a disconnect between our understanding of purpose. I confess, I often find I have checked out of a conversation because the clergy & leaders use us (clergy) vs them (laity) language and assign blame to congregations for their failure to bring in new members. I am trying hard to listen.

    Thanks again for your posts.


  3. Danie de Beer

    Sure! The BIG question is WHY? Why do we want (new) people to come to worship? For the numbers’ sake, or for their money?
    It seems to me that we forget what the church has been called to do — the disciple-thing!
    Too often it is about “programs” (and we have forgotten that it should be ministries!) to “entertain” as many people as possible.
    It’s not – and never again will be – about getting new members.
    Thanks for this post …


  4. I am so with you on this. If we spent more time connecting people with the love of Jesus, his church would take care of itself.


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