LeeAnne Watkins writes honestly about the failure of the attraction model of church. In the Christian Century, “This Just Isn’t Working: When People Don’t Show up,” she gets at the heart of what a lot of mainline and even Evangelical churches are facing, it appears we have reached the end of the an age where a significant number of those who attend church services want any serious religious education through the means of attending a class. The people in her growing congregation are more than eager to attend worship, feed the hungry, and get involved in other social justice projects. They just don’t have time for weekly or even periodic religious education. So, she stopped making the offering. Good for her. Why prop up something that is dying for the sake of “trying harder?” I personally have no use for the attractional or program model of doing church.
I hesitate to suggest the average congregant doesn’t desire some deeper study of scripture or spiritual writing. From my own observation, a fair number of people who attend our church do want some sort of guidance in their spiritual life. What they may not have time for is the traditional model of delivery. Maybe today’s churchgoers would be more willing to engage in some theological conversation if it were offered to them via the Internet. What about a Facebook Bible study? It might be worth a try? But, should our church offer a Facebook or Internet Bible study for the sake of, what?
The better model, I suggest, is leading by spiritual direction. Whenever the pastor has the opportunity, one-on-one, a small group standing in a corridor, a phone call, an email, and of course during the sermon, she should consider the time as a moment for spiritual direction—the most needed form of spiritual education. While the pastor may be forced into roles of administration, fund raising, and landscaper, he must be the spiritual guide, religious mentor, rabbi, priest, and shaman to his people. The Reverend Watkins may have more opportunities to offer religious education than she realizes?
The article is worth the ten minute read. Found at http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-05/just-isn-t-working.