When an organisation is struggling, advisors often encourage the leaders to refocus on the “core business“. Nobody benefits from spreading their resources too thin, from trying to achieve too many goals at once. Every company that wishes to be effective should take time out to consider what their most important product is; what they are uniquely positioned to offer to the market; what they do best.
Jesus makes it 100% clear what the “core business” of the church is – L.O.V.E. Before his death, he spelled it out plainly; “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Alan Knox has just written an excellent series of blog posts about “the love problem“. He begins by saying; “Jesus said all people would know us by our love. But, when you ask people what they think about Christians, love is far, far down the list… if it even makes the list. We have a love problem.”
In Alan’s latest post, “So, why does the church have a love problem?“, he goes on to point out that we should see God’s people demonstrating more and more love, the longer they go to church, if they are truly growing in spiritual maturity. Instead, we often find new converts are often more loving than those who have called themselves ‘Christians’ for many years. This may not always be the case, but it happens more than it should.
Alan puts his finger on one of the root causes of why the Christian church is not seen by the world as a beacon of love – the system we are using isn’t achieving our central goal of true maturity. He writes; “The “love problem” is a result of lack of maturity in Christ. I think this lack of maturity affects our love (and our demonstration of love) primarily because love cannot be taught through speeches, sermons, books, articles, seminars, conferences, and, yes, even blog posts.”
If the “core business” of the church is love, we’re not going to get there through neatly packaged sermons, books and conferences (or blog posts, as Alan has remarked). We need to be engaged in deep relationships, in living life face-to-face and side-by-side. We need to be able to observe one another demonstrating love, to actively give and receive love, to talk less about love and experience love more. As we put love into practice, we work our spiritual “love muscles” and build up strength and endurance.
Do sermons help people love one another better? Is group singing an effective way to build deep relationships? It would be easy to think churches are all about education and inspiration, not the messy business of loving one another. Perhaps it’s time for church leaders to do an organisational review and check whether they are focusing on the “core business” of love.