It’s happened before, it will happen again. Sometimes it happens because we’ve messed up. Calvary is filled with a lot of great, imperfect people and sometimes we mess up. Sometimes I mess up. Sometimes it happens because our “product” leaves someone dissatisfied. Maybe my preaching has lost it’s shine, or a certain program just isn’t meeting their needs, or they just didn’t connect with a lifegroup, or they don’t like the songs we sing, or the vision just doesn’t excite them. So they leave in search of a church that will do a better job of meeting their needs.
Whenever I hear about someone leaving Calvary…I have a variety of thoughts…
1) I want Calvary to be a place where people’s needs can be met. Jesus healed, fed, served…met needs. There are so many places we can grow as a church, but at the same time…ultimately you don’t build a movement on customers. Jesus changed the world with followers — teammates — not customers.
2) The “church without walls” vision is not about being the best church in the community. It’s about being the best church for the community. In other words, the church is not there for us. We are the church and we are here for the world. Not everyone is going to be on board with that kind of vision.
3) Some people leave Calvary and go to another church. Some people leave another church and come to Calvary. But can you really leave a church and go to another church? Is church really a place? A place with programs? A place there for me? I think, “Where do you go to church?” is the wrong question. Asking me where I go to church is like asking me, “Where do you go to Nold?” I don’t go to Nold, I am Nold and where I am, there Nold is. We don’t go to church, we are the church and where we are, there the church is. Jesus might be more concerned about where the church is…than where we go to church.
4) The people — that I know — who have left Calvary are great people. They will make a difference in the congregation where they connect. I’m glad they are part of the church of the Centre Region.
5) Last thought — when you come to one of our gatherings this weekend, you will see some open seats. Don’t worry we aren’t shrinking, in fact we are growing. But as we are growing, we are also going… Going is even better than leaving. We’re going and starting new gatherings in multiple communities. We are spreading out so that we can be the church in the communities where we live. So every one of those open seats — represents someone in your neighborhood, someone in your office, or class, or playgroup. So this weekend, when you sit next to an open chair — ask God to give you an opportunity to reach out to that person.
I love being a part of this movement…part of Jesus’ team…part of Calvary…part of the church of the city. I’m looking forward to what God wants to do in us…and through us — whether we find ourselves leaving…or going.