There is no question that churches are in decline. There is little argument that many churches are dying. There is no limit to the number of templates that have been offered to fix the problem. Reverse the decline by doing this or trying that. Yet the magic formula, the difference maker still eludes us. We just don't get it.
Steve McSwain wrote a blog entitled "Why Nobody wants to Go to Church Anymore." He said a lot about paying attention to demographics, technology, leadership, competition with secular activities, contemporary worship, and, interestingly enough, phony advertising. The last one intrigues me. McSwain posits that we are not who we say we are. Phony advertising suggests we have open hearts, open minds, and open doors when, the truth is, few churches are really open. I am not talking about the GLBTQ thing, I am talking about the deep resistance most churches have to change.
Hearts, minds and doors are closed to real and substantive change. We love feeling powerful (it makes our hearts sing) when serving in a highly visible church office so much that we are not open to pass the power onto new, developing leadership. We have felt a 30 plus year kinship worshiping with like minded people in our church and are not open to innovating our worship service in order to be more attractive to people who think differently from us. In our local churches, and with our Board of Trustees, safety overwhelms risk taking. We lock our worship center doors and rigidly enforce food and beverage rules inside our walls. Our rooms are not open to all of God's children. We would rather save the carpet than save souls.
Open hearts, open minds, open doors, who are we kidding? First we must make radical changes in our local church culture. Until we open up our culture we will not benefit from these remarkable "best practices" program ministry templates suggested by McSwain, McLaren, Sweet, Schnaze and others.