5 Questions To Determine If Your Church Is The Happiest Place You Could Ever Imagine
I recently was at a conference where North Point Community Church’s Andy Stanley asked the question “Why are so many 18-35 year olds leaving church?”Â HisÂ startlingÂ answer – “Because they’ve been to one.”Â Ouch!
My wife and I are greeters at Fellowship Bible Church and it is alarmingÂ when people arrive looking like they do not want to be there.Â NowÂ there are manyÂ more who look thrilledÂ but I am still left wondering if there is something we can do to increase the level of expectancyÂ forÂ a larger percentage ofÂ our attendees.
In theÂ June 3rd edition of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, there is an article profiling Camp Twin Lakes entitled “‘Happiest place you could ever imagine.’”Â Camp Twin Lakes is an extraordinary campground designed specifically for special needs children and young people afflicted withÂ severeÂ illnessesÂ such asÂ cancer.Â The following are some of the camp’s features:
- Specially trained staff.
- State of the art medical facilities whichÂ allow childrenÂ needing treatments such as chemo to not have to leave the campgrounds.
- EducatingÂ families on their illnesses.
- Handicap access for all things physically healthy children have – horseback riding, swimming pools, rock walls, tree houses, nature trails, water slides, etc…
Here are some of the quotes from the article:
- Dan Matthews, director of camping services, says, “Often kids with chronic and terminal illnesses are coddled and not given choices…Everything we do is promoting independence…It’s practical saying what they need and it’s skills they take home.”
- Bethany Kinsey said, “I learned to reach outÂ when you are feeling kind of down and depressed.Â Type 1 diabetes and depression can go handÂ in hand.”
- Alexis Whitfield, an 11-year-old diabetic who has noÂ diabetic friends, says “I am going to camp to see my peeps.”
- Stephanie Phillips, diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at age 12, said camp was like “Heaven on earth.”Â Â Her sister Paige added, “Her first year going to camp, she wouldn’t go anywhere without a wig, but after camp, she was like, ‘It’s OK, I am bald, people can look at me if they want.”
Stephanie passed away in 2005 at 18 years of age.Â Paige is now one of the camp’s program coordinators.Â She says, “The reasons kids attend camp are sometimes very sad.Â But the camp is not sad.Â It’s the happiest place you could ever imagine.”
I have though a lotÂ about Paige’s statement.Â Â I suspect the reason a lot ofÂ adults attend church is for reasons that are very sad as well.Â Their life is falling apart.Â Â Their marriage is in trouble.Â Their kids areÂ deeply troubled.Â They are lonely, hurting, destitute, in financial ruins, or have lost their way.Â Their life is empty and nothing this world has offered has filled that void.Â Not sex.Â Not money.Â Not pleasure.Â Not people.Â Not activity.Â Not drugs or alcohol.Â Not their career.Â Nothing.
That is because we all have a terminal illness.Â It is called sin.Â But the good news is that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician and a relationship with Him is the only cure.
If people seeking a cure to their terminal illness of sin visited your church, would they callÂ it the happiest place on earth?Â The answer may be found by answering the following questions that flow from the quotes above:
- Does your churchÂ promote independence by meeting needs and providing life skills they can take home?
- Does your churchÂ provide an opportunity for hurting people the joy of serving others?
- Does your church allow peopleÂ the opportunity to experience genuine community?Â A place where they can see their peeps?
- Does your churchÂ foster authenticity?Â Is it acceptable for people to say. “It’s OK.Â I’m bald.”
- Does your church allow sad people to feelÂ normal and have hope?
Fellowship Bible Church is a great church butÂ not a perfect one.Â Â No church is.Â ButÂ wouldÂ sad and hurting peopleÂ who visited our churchÂ feel it wasÂ one of theÂ happiest places they could ever imagine? I sure hope so.
Pastors and church leaders,Â how is your church doing in regard to the five questions asked above?
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