I must make something clear; something that is clearly missing in the church’s understanding (or misunderstanding, rather) concerning the “not-churched” (un-churched or de-churched, or etc.). There is one major reason why people are not in church. In most cases it is not because people have an issue with God. Likewise, in most cases, it is not because people have an issue with Jesus Christ. It is the fact that, in most cases, people have issues with the church, itself, in general. I mean that in two different ways:
Where Church (by definition) calls us to function as community, because God is community, we have become individualistic and seek only what is best for “me.” By nature, we are tribal. We like only to be around our own kind – those who act, walk, talk, and smell, etc. like we do. We have lost all inkling of what it means to live as the “Body” of Christ, with differing parts by design. Being the nature of humanity, the church has come to reflect human degradation, rather than reflecting He who instituted it. If the church is simply a reflection of the brokenness of humanity, what does it offer that is any different than what anyone anywhere else has to offer? The church claims its benefit is Christ, but the not-churched see no evidence of this benefit. For, they are simply looking into a broken mirror and the reflection confirms the fractures, with no hope of healing.
Historically, Church became a culture of its own where, to become “Christian,” meant converting from one culture to a competing culture (the “correct” culture). “If you do things like us” (notice the alienation and exasperated division) “things would be better in your life.” The church said, “You need Jesus” and then proceeded to define exactly what “Christianity” means according to its own image rather than Christ’s. Writing its own tablets of stone, the church established accepted norms (according to its own “authorized” interpretation), to which one must convert to be “Christian” or that one is hereby rejected (by the church and, thus, by God – or so it was assumed).
So, we have two issues working simultaneously: First, humanity has become individualistic, as opposed to communal and; secondly, the church (as a rule) no longer reflects the oneness of God but, rather, splintered humanity collectively sharing in the misery of sameness. God’s worldview is for humanity to express the community of God (which He holds in Himself), of which He has invited us to be a part. This necessitates the church as the expression of God’s grace – Jesus Christ – on earth. It is uncomfortable, in the sense that most of the people aren’t like “me.” It is ugly, in the sense that cross-cultured humanity lives in and out of community. It means that, if there is a need in the community then God is supplying for that need through humanity as Church. This means that church is not something we do “to” or “for” someone, but “with” someone. It is not a matter of what “I” get out of it, but how God is moving in community. Church is defined by its expression of Christ. God has not made of all people one culture. He has made of all cultures one community – Church. Now, what does THAT look like?!