Build it, and they still might not come.

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

I loved the movie, “Field of Dreams” with kevin Costner. The voice of “Shoeless Joe” kept telling him to build it and they will come. SO he built this baseball field in his back yard, even though he nearly lost his farm and everything else. But then these legendary baseball players all just showed up. Unfortunately, that is not true about church life anymore.

We assume that because we see church buildins on so many street corners of downtown and suburbia, and even dotting the rural countryside that Americans all know the Gospel. A huge percentage of our population is unreached, and it seems increasingly so. Some of the major ubran areas of our nation are significantly ethnic. Some of the larger cities are less than 2% evangelical Christian, meaning they fit the description of an unreached people group on the mission field.

With the streaming immigration into the U.S. have come the religions of all around the world. I live in Richland County of the Bible belt. Some have said there are more Baptists in S.C. than there are people. And yet, now in Richland County there is a Baha’i community, six Buddhist centers, five Islamic centers and mosques, and a Sikh society. We have long been populated by cults and other religious expressions other than Christianity.

When we talk about the numbers people express shock. “Seriously, there are that many unreached people?” they proclaim. “Aren’t there enough churches already,” they declare. What do we honestly think? Do we beleive our neighbors see us roll our ‘herby-curby’ trash cans to the road in such a “holy way” that they automatically become Christians? Do we think that we can just build our buildings, and they are going to come?

One recent convert to Christianity told me the other day, ‘I don’t want to go to Grandma’s church.” As we pursued that thought, he said, “Don’t get me wrong, I love grandma. But her style and mine aren’t the same.” Bottom line is our message must never change and never be compromised. But the methodologies we employ (such as style of music) must continually reflect a cultural relevance. The census of 2000 said the largest single demographic group in the community where the church I serve is located is single African American males. The largest age grouping in our community is between the age of 16 and 25. So what is the missional code of this community, and do we even care?

We can build it. But if we do not communicate the Gospel clearly to the world around us, they may never come. And we will simply have built more edifices for future generations to tour and marvel at what we did. Will some future century uncover our major football stadiums and wonder what religious ceremonies occurred there?

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