People rarely attend a church because of a new logo. Or a new name. Or a newly renovated space. The impetus for people to attend a new church is not because of a progressive “Coffee in the Sanctuary” policy. To think these changes are what bring people to a church is less than intellectually rigorous (read: stupid).
Riverdeep Church is 10 days away from our launch Sunday. Ten. Days. And although we have made all the above changes, we are not so silly to think that those reasons are going to usher in a flood of people into our church doors. The first Sunday will come and more people will attend than we knew would be there. Their motivation coming from a variety of reasons ranging from curiosity to a desire for community. We will have friends from our past ministry contexts who are just coming to celebrate what God has done and the new work He is guiding in the neighborhood. October 30 will be a great celebration of God and his desire to continue calling people to know Him.
But November 6 will arrive shortly after, which will give us a better idea of what to expect long-term for Riverdeep. And I can almost certainly guarantee that no one is returning because of the reasons from the first paragraph. The only reason people will continue to come back is because they saw Jesus. Not physically in person, but they experienced the love of Christ in people who accept them and not reject them. A community motivated by love and a desire to be an important part of an extended family. They will only return if they gain a greater understanding of THE life-changing Gospel. Not a “try harder” religion which begs for us to just give a little more, or just try not sinning harder, or to toughen up and be more devoted to the church programs. These are not Gospel. They are life-suffocating shackles that burden Christians instead of liberating them for a life of freedom.
Jesus came to set us free. He is more powerful than our sin. He is better than our addictions. He enables and empowers a Holy life strictly by the gift of the Spirit. And He desires for us to find a community that wants us all to live a sin-slaying, ever-listening, joyfully-serving, lovingly-accepting, and continually-praying life.
No one is coming. That is, unless the Spirit draws. Won’t you come?