There are plenty of articles about things like why people are leaving churches, or how to get people to come to church, or what attracts people to church, or what repels people about church. Funny, I thought the church was God's people coming together as God's people to be God's people together? Maybe one kind of church is more worth going to than another, but if the church is shrinking overall in an area, that ought to mean that Christianity is shrinking in the area.
So there are articles about what offends people about various churches.
Hmm... I wonder if the problem might be that the Church isn't very present in our churches?
I'm not saying that the church being offensive is necessarily bad. I'd be much quicker to say that the fact that our churches aren't ridiculed might be a problem. We should be offensive, but in a particular kind of way. Not so much the offense of "Hey, I found the truth! Listen! Listen! Hey, why aren't you listening, we told you this is true!" as the offense of "Um... guys..." looking around at the abysmal nature of our situation, "...maybe we should call God for help?" This is the difference between the attitude of the guy who thinks he can handle a street gang coming at him, and the attitude of the guy who calls the cops--it may hurt our pride, someone may calls us all wusses, but it tends to work a lot better.
We can jabber on about morals, but so can anyone with a tongue. We can jabber on about how Christ has redeemed us, but, um, from what and to what again? We jabber on about how sinful we are, but... where's the hope there? We can jabber on about how we should be holy as God is holy, but, excuse me, maybe I'm just really bad at this whole christian thing, but that feels really futile a lot of the time. We can jabber about the love of God, but that tends to sound sort of vague... or the glory of God (what's glory again?)... or about our love for God, but why?
Maybe the reason people don't want to come to church is because they don't meet God there. I mean, who is God? Is that at all clear in our churches? Is it clear that Christ came to save us from our sins? Is it clear that he frees us from bondage to sin? Is it clear why sin matters? Is it clear that when Christ ascended he did not leave us alone? Is it clear how fully we have been reconciled to the Father?
Is anything clear? Or are we just singing our vague little songs to some "you" which might at some point be called "lord," but is rarely identified by what he has done? I mean, all well and good to call him savior, but it doesn't mean a whole lot apart from what we have been saved from and to. Give me Jesus! Not just the name, but show me who this person is! Let the worship, the greeting, the songs, the sermon, the whole experience of coming into fellowship with each other, be Godward. Let it all reorient me to God, let us reorient one another to God. We are quite distractable. I walk into some times of worship having all but forgotten who God is and why I should worship him. I have gone into such places thinking "God, here I am, even though I'd rather not be--go ahead and change me, please," (if even that). So maybe our worship services should be structured with that kind of thing in mind. Maybe we should set ourselves up as a counter culture by setting our churches up to be oases from the culture of the world where the culture of Christ can shape us.
Church is not merely a place for a bunch of people to share being Christian with each other. It is a place for us to exist as a body. It is a place where a culture becomes visible, and that culture is evidence of God--love one another. That culture is different from the one the world has. We are those who love all. Interacting with each other, we love one another. That culture is the culture of the Holy Spirit manifesting in us. Where two or more are gathered, there you see Christ. So, why church? Well, because church is where we gather, so: to see Christ.