Church leaders often discuss “revival”. What is revival? One thing we all agree upon across all denominational lines is there are greater numbers of salvations than normal. People repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus as savior is the one thing that everyone lists as a part of true revival. Oh, we disagree on miracles, worship style, church government, prophesy, end times and women in ministry just to name a few but we all want to see more people convert to Christianity. So why are our services so tailored for Christians?
At the Creative Church Conference, Ed Young place a chair on the stage and announced, “We have forgotten about the empty chair.” We create our weekend worship experiences for those that are already believers. The songs we choose, the topics we preach on, even the language we use are usually meant to reach the believer.
If we really care about those that are on a fast highway to Hell, then we will focus the majority of our resources on filling the empty chairs in our sanctuaries. This means changing some of the way we are used to doing things. First, we need to modernize our church buildings. People who spend their days in flashy malls, high tech schools and well decorated offices walk into a church building and either feel they have been time-warped back to the 1980s or see cheap, poorly maintained facilities. How we present God’s house says something about how relevant our faith is.
The next step is to change the way we present the gospel itself. I’m not talking about ever compromising on the core values of scripture or tolerating sin. I’m talking about vision drift. The Great Commission tells us to “Go and make disciples” and this must be the center of every church’s vision. This means limiting “Christianize”—words no one outside of church understands, playing contemporary style music and most of all preaching life-application messages. An unchurched person doesn’t care what the 4 Beasts in Revelation are but does care about how to have a good marriage. These changes offend those with religious spirits and those with self-centered, “What about me?” attitudes. The truth is, it is the job of church leaders to feed baby believers but as people grow up they should be able to feed themselves.
The bottom line is this…mature people reproduce, immature care only about getting themselves fed. This Sunday when you walk into the church sanctuary look around. Each empty chair represents another soul that will be tormented in Hell for all eternity. Let it break your heart so next week you’ll work hard to fill that chair.