• Brandon Sutton

One simple step to make our churches happier places

You hear and see a lot of advertisements that go something like this: Five ways to improve your love life. Six ways to lose weight quickly. Three steps towards becoming a better you. Some of them work. Most don’t. Frankly, I grow weary of seeing these kinds of ads, and you probably do too.

Nevertheless, I am going to offer one simple step that is guaranteed to make your church a happier place. If it doesn’t work, I promise that I will refund your misery.

Let’s be honest. Some churches are not pleasant places, and if you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably been a part of a congregation that has experienced its fair share of bickering and problems. You know what I mean. You’ve experienced the dread of getting up on Sunday because church has become a place of gossip, back-stabbing, cliques and power groups. You walk up to the doors and fear captures your heart once again as you approach the ushers. During the service, you try to worship and love Jesus, but that sacred hour is overshadowed by the current crisis. When you leave, you feel worse than when you came. Afterwards, conversation with fellow church members is centered upon the latest problem instead of the sermon or what God is doing in the church.

What I just described may be a bit exaggerated, but maybe not. Point being, churches can become very unhappy places. Why? Well, there are a whole host of reasons; so many, in fact, time won’t permit me to cover them all. But, if I could pin point one primary issue that causes our churches to become unhappy places it is this: We are too inwardly focused. I know. I know. I have written about this before. “Doesn’t he have anything else to write about?” you bemoan. I do. But, this subject is so pervasive and important, it could be written about every week and churches still would need to hear it.

Our churches are filled with problems primarily because we’re too focused on ourselves. We’ve adopted a country club mentality when it comes to church. Tithes become dues, and the church becomes a place where I get my needs met. The pastor is a chaplain who serves only to do what the members want and when he doesn’t they get mad and want to fire him.

When churches become all about themselves, problems will inevitably arise. The problems, however, are merely symptoms of an underline issue; namely, the church is inwardly focused.

So, what’s the one simple step that will make our churches happier places? Become outwardly focused! Consider all the different ways your church could look beyond itself to reach people for Jesus. Reach out into your communities to see how you can serve them. Start a food pantry and give meet people’s needs. Get your people inviting unchurched people to your services. At your next leadership meeting, ask the question: how can we turn our current ministries (which are usually geared towards meeting member needs) into outwardly focused service opportunities? What could you change about your worship service that wouldn’t violate biblical principles but would make it more inviting and welcoming to outsiders? How could you update your building so that it seems more appealing to the new comer? How could you change your culture and language so that those who aren’t familiar with how you do church could integrate into the life of your church ease? What non-biblical stumbling blocks could you remove that would open up your ministries to the unchurched who need Jesus?

If you want your church to become a happier place, take your eyes off self, put them on Jesus and those He wants to reach with His redeeming love.

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