In this video, Alan Hirsch talks about how he thinks we should approach the reality that the church is no longer a central aspect of society in western civilizations. Although the “mega church” model is growing, Christianity itself is declining. This is because it is becoming increasingly more difficult to spread the gospel in the West due to new cultural barriers. As America and other western civilizations become more diverse, there are more things that Christians need to overcome in order to share the gospel in a meaningful way. Some of the barriers that Alan Hirsch mentions are language, different world views, racial history, and personal distinctive stories.
So now, when interacting with a non-Christian, you have to make sure that you are keeping these barriers in mind. However, as the mega church continues to grow, one of the most popular methods of introducing Christianity to others is by simply inviting them to your church. This isn’t always an issue. You might have a friend who is integrated into the same culture as you are. When they come to your church, they will easily be able to adapt because there are no cultural barriers. But if you invite somebody from your school or workplace who lacks a Christian background or whose first language isn’t English or who has a negative view on the church, it will be hard for them to feel comfortable.
When we invite people to our churches and they have negative experiences, we say things like, “Well, I tried” or “Maybe it just isn’t for them.” Alan Hirsch insists that they are not the problem. We are. He believes that the mega church is a good establishment. He believes that the mega church is right for many people. However, in America alone, 60% of people aren’t interested in church. This isn’t talking about church attendance. This is talking about interest alone. So over half of Americans are not too pleased with the current church situation.
In Australia, the polls were even more surprising. But when interviewed, people generally responded positively to “God,” “Jesus,” and “Spirituality.” The only topic that people generally didn’t like was “Church.” What is the reason for this? Well, Alan Hirsch calls us (the church-goer population) the “attractional church.” This sounds like a positive thing, but it’s not. What it means is that we are making other people do the cross-cultural work. We are forcing other people to change and fit themselves into “the church box.” This is the cause for that 60% who do not like church! And this is in our country alone!
Something clearly needs to change. The mega church isn’t bad. In fact, I’m a member of a mega church and me and my family are very happy there. But what about people who have had bad experiences with church in the past? What about people who grow up in different cultures or socioeconomic situations? What about people who have grown up in another religion? What about traditionalists, or Christians who are members of denominations like Orthodoxy and Catholicism? Would they feel comfortable at my church? I’m not so sure.
So what needs to happen? We need to come up with alternative approaches to reach outward instead of pulling inward. People shouldn’t have to come to a church for introductions to Christianity, the church should go to them. I’m not suggesting that we change our doctrine. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. The Bible tells us to love others like Jesus loves us, and that requires accepting people where they’re at, no matter how different they may be from us.