I’ve been thinking about the purpose of our church a lot lately. I sincerely believe that God places every church in a particular place at a particular time for a particular reason. One of the responsibilities of churches is to discover why God has placed them in their place at this time.
How Does a Church Discover Its Purpose?
In order to discover this purpose, churches must examine their community and ask, “What are the problems (or main problem) within our community that our church must seek to address?” So we can ask that question of our own community: What are the problems or main problem in Easley, Sc that our church must seek to address?
A Looming Problem in Easley
We can eliminate some potential problems fairly easily. For instance, the main problem is not poverty. Easley has only a 10.5% poverty rate, and the average household income for Easley is $52,414. For married families, the average income is $87,387. The main problem is not lack of education. The percentage of people in Easley over the age of 25 who have a high school education or higher is 85%. And the main problem is not a lack of religion. There are around 120 churches in Easley alone. Please don’t miss that: for a city of only 12.68 square miles, there are around 120 churches. You could throw a rock and almost certainly hit a church building.
But with that last statistic comes an interesting question: In a city with so many churches, why is faith not flourishing? And therein lies the main problem we face in Easley.
People are overly exposed to religion, they have maybe even attended a church for their entire lives, they call themselves Christians, but in actuality, their faith is nothing more than a cultural practice. This is what is known as “cultural Christianity” or “nominal Christianity.”
It’s the idea that to be a Christian means that I affirm Christian teaching, I attend a church occasionally, I walked down an aisle at one point in my life, I filled out a card, I call myself a Christian, so therefore I must be a Christian. But has there been any true repentance? Has there been a true new birth? Has there been any true dependance on God? Has there been any true life change? Has there been any true trust in Jesus alone for salvation? Has there been any true growth in holiness and Christlikeness? Has there been any true commitment to the work of God? Isn’t there more to our faith than just this?
Unfortunately, the people of Easley are settling for something less than what God truly has in store for His people. C. S. Lewis said it like this:
Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”C. S. Lewis
People in our community are settling for a Christianity that says try to go to church once a week, try not to be too bad of a person, try to be a good person and do good things, and if you do these things, then be assured that you’re a Christian. What a letdown! Why would you settle for such a faith?
Addressing the Problem
Here’s my heart: I want people to experience more! And that’s exactly what God wants too! He wants to transform nominal faith into phenomenal faith. He wants people to experience fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). He wants people to experience His nearness (Isaiah 50:8). He wants people to experience the wonders of His Word (Psalm 119:18). He wants people to experience the joy of salvation (1 Peter 1:8). He wants people to experience communion with Him (1 Corinthians 1:9). He wants people to experience freedom from sin, guilt, wrath, and death (Galatians 5:1). He wants people to experience newness of life (Romans 6:4) and eternal life (1 John 5:11). He wants people to experience that eternal life with Him in glory (Revelation 21:3-4).
Our mission as a church is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus. And one of the main ways we do that is by helping people to experience the more, refusing to let them settle for something lesser, and transforming the nominal into phenomenal. This is our passion and vision at Georges Creek.