The modern western world has been altering its sense of religiosity in general and the Church in particular for the last several decades. For many, the idea of Church has become something negative. The preaching and the broader mission of the Church universal have become something that many people, young and old alike, but mostly young, do not see as continuing to be effective in their lives.
What is beginning to happen all over the country in recent years, however, is a movement away from closing off as an exclusive group and expanding the mission of the Church to a collection of a much broader group of missional communities. The community church has a very strong missional church mindset of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and taking care of the poor.
They are more than just a Sunday worship gathering, they are the hands and feet of God, spreading love, joy, peace, and hope to those with whom they come into contact. About 37% of Americans say they attend some kind of worship service weekly. But if you look more closely, many more people than that will show up for events that serve the community and help make lives better in some way.
Since the early 1970s, there has been almost a 400% growth in the number of people who call themselves protestants who worship or work in some way with some kind of non denominational church. This is actually a trend that makes a great deal of sense when you consider that roughly 20% of adults in the United States grew up with a mixed religious background.
People are becoming more and more interested in missional communities that are focused more on the mission and mindset of Jesus than coming to worship services once a week and not being involved in the community the other six days. Missional communities are taking the time and making the effort to find out what needs their communities have and how they might go about trying to aid their own and surrounding communities with projects and programs that will benefit all people.
Missional communities typically work within the framework of a non denominational church, using collective resources and planning to understand and implement programs based on need. For example, missional communities might identify the need for a soup kitchen in their community. They might use the basement of the church to prepare meals and serve those who come in off of the street. The mission is simply to feed the hungry.
Another program that many missional communities concern themselves with is clothing the poor. One of the big drives in community churches all around the country comes just before the winter time when churches will gather used jackets, clothes, and shoes, and will even take donations of new clothing items to give to those who have the need but not the means to buy clothes that they need.
For many churches, the idea of serving the community has taken an upswing in popularity. It is the true mission of Jesus and while worshiping on Sundays still appeals to many, what seems to be even more appealing is the ability that churches have to relieve some of the suffering and inequality that they see around them on a daily basis.
It makes no difference if you head to church on Sunday, say some prayers, sing some songs, and listen to a sermon but don’t do the work that Jesus preached about. When anyone in the community is suffering, then the entire community is suffering. When missional churches are doing their best work, they have set up safe spaces where the poor, the lame, and the marginalized are able to participate in the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven.
The more people who participate, the fewer have to remain living as those who believe they are less than. That is the mission of Jesus.