Since its inception in the early 1990s, Good Shepherd has sought to make church convenient for worshippers.
It’s why we have casual dress. Why we have music that is radio-friendly. Why we provide children’s programming at all the hours we have worship services. Why we go to great lengths to put biblical and theological language in terms that folks who are not familiar with church can understand. And it’s why we don’t even pass an offering plate, instead trusting that people will honor God and support the church through the giving baskets as they depart.
This entire “high touch, low threat” approach has contributed greatly to whatever levels of success we have had.
You could even say that being a “convenient” church has been a major source of strength.
And it could also be our undoing.
Because I have realized through the years that if people are drawn to a church because it is convenient, they can be drawn away when it becomes inconvenient.
Like when someone else’s definition of “casual dress” is just a bit too . . . casual.
Or when the music one day is too energetic. Or not energetic enough.
Or when the children’s or youth ministries no longer suit, when the messages no longer entertain (or challenge), when the drive becomes too long, or when the church appears to operate fine on its budget so why give it all?
This doesn’t mean that I’m showing up on Sunday in a robe, using language that only religious professionals understand while inviting you to stand and sing Gregorian chants.
It does mean, however, that I’m wondering: what would it look like if instead of a culture of convenience, we had the culture of calling at Good Shepherd?
That instead of making it comfortable, we called people to live in the discomfort of a life in which the greatest is the servant, the first is the last, and the best way to find your life is by losing it?
I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I aim to find out.