The phone rings and the caller asks… “I’m looking for a new church and I have a few questions to ask about your church.” I try my best to respond with kindness. I think the caller will soon be asking some questions with sincerity so I try to be as helpful as I can.
I can almost predict the questions. They will go something like this..
- “What time does your worship service start?” I respond by telling them first of all on Sunday mornings we have a bible study for everyone at 9:15 followed by our corporate worship service at 10:30AM
- “What kind of music do you have?” I respond by saying that we strive to use music that speaks of the holiness of God and man’s great need for Him.
- The next set of questions are music related, always….
- “OK, but what kind of music is that? Do you use a hymn book?” my reply, “Yes we sing songs from hymn books.”
- sometimes the question is “do you have a drum set?”
If I make it through the music questions without a dial tone, I’m usually then asked about children and youth ministry.
- “Do you have children’s church?”
- “Do you have an active youth group?”
- “Do you have AWANA?”
These are fair questions. After all the church culture has conditioned us to think like this when we talk about church. As I commence explaining this to the caller about how we do children and youth ministry, I get what I’ve learned to describe as confused silence. It’s a distinct sound on the phone. It’s hard to explain really, but the caller usually comes to some kind of understanding of what I’ve just tried to explain.
But two questions I don’t hear asked by the callers strike me as most complex.
Maybe they don’t ask because they’ve already done their research and visited our website and know the answer to these unasked questions (then again, if they’ve visited our website they would know the answer to most of their questions they’ve been asking.)
These two questions have unique things to say about the nature of the caller, what people have grown to think about the local church, and what the weekly prayer gathering has become.
- First: I’ve am rarely asked what I believe about God. I’ve been asked about what translation I preach from or if I’m a Calvinist or not. I’m usually asked how long the preaching service goes, but rarely (by rarely I mean I can recall one caller a few years ago that inquired beyond preferences of style and length of services) have I ever been asked if I believe in the God of the bible. (It’s likely they have some kind of idea.)
- Second: I can say with a high level of certainty that I have never been asked, “What time do your prayer gatherings start?” But then again, many of the regular attendees couldn’t even answer that question.
I pray for a day when those are the two most asked questions. But so long as church continues to be viewed as a consumer product to be decided by what man thinks as most important then I will continue expecting that these questions will rarely be asked.
So, since you’ve read this far, let me go ahead and let you know what time our prayer gathering starts. Wednesday nights at 6:30PM. We gather, read some Scripture and pray.