Thursday, August 25, 2005

Trusting People and Trusting God

As I sat with my friend Randy Thomas watching Married Life Live's showcase for the Drive Conference, an interesting thought occurred to me. It's not fully formed yet, but it goes something like this: Northpoint trusts people (and God) more than most churches.

We watched a video testimony about a couple who decided a few years ago to get intentional about their marriage. They started attending Married Life Live -- a quarterly event for couples. They get involved in a small group. They took the initiative.

They did not have to be guilted into doing this. They did not have someone calling to remind them to be there. They did not have someone holding their hand through the process. If they had decided not to do this, I'm not sure anyone would have noticed.

Married Life Live is an event for people who mostly want to be there. Serving on the planning team that creates the event, I know we work at creating something people want to attend. We want people to walk out of there thinking, "I might not agree with everything they said, but I'm sure coming back for the next one."

If you don't want to come, you don't have to. But if you want to grow, you have to take the initiative and the responsibility. No one's going to do it for you. And no one's going to make you do it.

Northpoint works hard to make sure you know what the next step is -- to make it easy for you to know what taking initiative and responsibility looks like. But do it -- don't do it -- it's up to you.

This is not the way most churches think. Most churches think we have to create structure that keeps people from falling through the cracks. We have to do something that keeps them tethered to the church. It's like we're afraid that if there's a chance of them leaving, they will. I wonder if church leaders think that because if they didn't have to be there, they sure wouldn't come.

All of this seems to reflect a lack of trust in people. We don't really believe that people will really want to come if they don't really have to.

Maybe more than that, it seems to reflect a lack of trust in God. Do we really believe that God is drawing people to himself without having to rely on our guilt-trips and manipulation?

What if we worked hard to create environments where people actually want to come instead of making people feel like they have to come?