Using the wrong methods of communication will frustrate the active, intelligent adults in any organisation and cause them to vote with their feet by leaving. In the past century of church life, we’ve watched helplessly as church numbers have drastically declined across the Western world. Instead of asking why we’re losing people from our pews, start asking who we’re losing. Are we losing the thinkers; the doers; the leaders and the youth? Will we ultimately only be left with the passive; the needy; the followers and the elderly?
Are we alienating men (and many women) by placing them in a passive, subordinate role? There’s a very real possibility that the very people we need to help the church change for the future are the ones who have already left. These are the same people who don’t like to be treated patronisingly as children needing to be educated; as consumers needing to be entertained; as followers needing to be led. If you can identify who is leaving the church, the why will become more obvious. A passive model of church is going to attract passive people.
We seriously need to reverse this trend as soon as possible, so that the church can become a place of innovation and creativity in the twenty-first century, which is a time like no other. In the industrial age, it was in everyone’s interest for the church and the education system at large to churn out factory workers – passive, capable followers with a healthy respect for authority. In this post-industrial age, where technology is changing the way we do everything at breakneck speed, we need creative, courageous, critically thinking, innovative people who are willing to take risks and try new things. We need to re-think our model of church so we can create the type of environment which will develop these characteristics in our people, and empower them to impact the rapidly-changing world around them.