I've read all the books. Attended all different styles of church (and a few different denominations). Lived east coast to west coast and several spots in between. I don't have it all figured out but these are some things that I personally feel sure about:
- A church that isn't authentic is a waste of everyone's time and money. If you don't feel you can truly be yourself at your church - then leave. But first try being yourself, and see if you get kicked out (it might be in your head).
- True fellowship can only happen in small groups. These small groups can take many different forms: Sunday School classes, home groups, coffee shop groups, accountability groups, etc... But if you don't have good small groups at your church, you don't really have a church - you have an overglorified worship gathering.
- Churches NEED to be seeker-sensitive, but not seeker-driven. We need to make sure that seekers feel welcome and that the message is clear to them. However, many churches wasted loads of time and money in the 80s and 90s trying to sneak up on people with the gospel. If the gospel you're preaching and presenting doesn't offend a seeker, you're preaching a false gospel. I've been saved for almost 30 years and it still offends me!
- Churches are failing miserably at discipleship. Membership classes and Sunday School are not enough. We need to spend more time in serious mentoring relationships. These, too, can take many different forms. But just like Jesus, we need to approach new believers and say "Follow me." And here's a question for you: Did Jesus start discipling the 12 before or after they became believers?
- Worship, no matter what the style of music, needs to be taught. It's more than music; it's a life.
- A church should be an asset to it's community. If your church is not an instrument of positive change (spiritual, physical, relational, economic) in your city or neighborhood, how can you start becoming such an instrument?
This is just a starting list. What are some of your characteristics of this mythical "perfect church"?