The longer I pastor the church the more frustrated I get with the game. The game you see has multiple fronts. This last weekend our church hosted a gathering where there were a large number of clergy there. Game on. I cannot tell you the number of times I was asked what do we worship. I wanted to answer, God, but I knew what the people meant. They wanted to know how many people we had in worship each week. The other side of the game comes from people attending the church with their agenda before their heart of worship. With the rise of the consumer driven church came the rise of the church shopper. The person who is looking for certain things to be done and not done in the life of a church. Usually this person has a history of moving from church to church about every 18 to 36 months. If this person does not move from church to church they shop within the church.
This form of the game would push the church to do only the things people are comfortable with, or that fit their particular understanding of the the church. This is not about numbers but about everything else. The discussion ranges from music style, to display of a charismatic faith, to the way we pray, the elements of worship. There are people worried about being too Catholic, or too protestant, or too this and not enough that. I believe it was Paul who asked, is the Body of Christ divided? The game must stop.
At the risk of being too blunt or bold, this game, either one, is killing the church. The focus is on our personal preferences instead of on God. Yes I look at the numbers every week, and like most I would always welcome more in worship. Yes I am concerned with orthodoxy in our life together as a church. However, I recognize there is so much more than numbers and personal preference. God is so much bigger than our little churchy hang ups. To the church shopper I say, get your eyes off yourself and start looking to God.