It seems that churches often get so caught up in their own programs and routines that they forget to ask how what they are offering meets any needs of their constituency. I don't mean those surveys that churches sometimes produce that ask if people are interested in bible study, or more information on prayer, etc. . . Often these types of surveys have an overwhelming response of "we want more bible study," but when something is offered the same 5 people show up who have been coming to bible study for 30 years.
It isn't about formulating a good survey or asking certain questions. Instead, it is about relationship. Do we know those we are working with? Do we understand their lives? Do we know their schedules? Do we understand what it is like for them to get to church on Sunday morning? or during the week? Do we know what they're struggling with and the life issues that are draining them or invigorating them? And most of all, do we as church leaders even know how to recognize the spiritual health of those in our church?
I sometimes see this disconnect between what we are offering in our churches both with our programs and with our worship, and what different groups (seniors, families, young adults) might be looking for. What are the spiritual needs of the congregation and how does our church help meet those needs? Now look at those outside your church - what are their spiritual needs of those not even attending, and how might the church reach out and help them?
I am intrigued by this social advocacy model. It has me wondering . . . what if we saw ourselves not as teachers or planners, but as advocates for the spiritual lives of others?