Two reasons why your church may be falling behind

Sweeping generalizations can be helpful in illuminating systemic problems, so I will make one: Churches tend to be terrible at media and communication. Which is ironic, since our primary role is to communicate the good news of Jesus to as many people as possible. Our websites are dated, videos are boring, printed materials are uninspiring. Ask your young people; they will validate this claim. Active investment in media is simply not at the forefront of our minds. All the while, the information revolution is in full swing, and we seem not to understand why this is one of the primary reasons why we’re falling behind. I have led churches for 20 years and have worked in media for 25 years. As someone living in two worlds, allow me to explain precisely how we are missing the train the early church did not miss.

  1. The modern church views itself as an institution and expects people should naturally want to come into its fold. In contrast, the early church was a grassroots movement, an outsider and a minority. They were the startup of faith operating in the shadow of the many well-established giants of the time. They were hungry, intentional, proactive, and compelling. The apostles traveled primarily to cities, where there were many people. In those cities, they found spaces where they could communicate to as many as possible. The temple courts, marketplaces, the Areopagus – were places where ideas could spread more rapidly. The modern church sees itself as “the giant of faith” now. So we are content, unfocused, passive, and boring to the new generation. That may signal the beginning of the end for some of us. Just ask the leaders of the cult of Aphrodite, if there are any to be found.
  2. The modern church does not seem to grasp, that it owes the speed of its initial explosive growth not only to God’s power and the faith of the early disciples, but also to God’s providence and timing. The information highway of the Roman world: its roads, safe travel, and its enforced laws also supercharged the spread of ideas, including Christianity. The information revolution of that time propelled the good news of Jesus all the way to Rome and all over the empire. The same explosive acceleration happened after the invention of the printing press. Today, we can reach unprecedented numbers of people with unprecedented speed. But we fell asleep at the wheel as the “giants of faith” we think we are. While we were dormant – the Areopagus has moved and is now online. As a result, we are at best not compelling, and at worst, absent from the conversation. Just ask the young, unchurched, unreached, and the confused.
We are no longer living by the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” We are too content to use “all possible means.” The train is leaving the station. The question is, are we willing to start running and hop into the last car? Or are we just going to stand by watching the world accelerate into the future without us on board? To the question in the words of the audience in Acts 2 “brothers, what shall we do?” The answer is: start thinking like a startup, a minority and an outsider. Get hungry, passionate and compelling and start using “all possible means.” Recognize the train you need to be on and run, don’t walk. We developed an assessment tool that will allow you to discover your churches Media Evangelism Score in under five minutes. It will also unlock a free video with powerful media strategies empowering churches around the US. Click here to access it. Christian Ray Flores is an evangelist at Austin Christian and co-founder of Third Drive.