A new craze has captured the hearts of many – Pokemon Go. Those whose hearts have been captured by this game have been out and about in their communities, seeking to capture different creatures and do battle at “gyms.” This game has encouraged people to get to know their communities better and exercise through requiring walking to hatch an “egg.”
It’s just another example of an eternal truth – “What captures the heart is given time and priority.”
I think that the congregations of Jesus have lost touch with this eternal truth to some degree.
Why do I say that? Because what captured the hearts of people 50 years ago or 25 years ago or even 5 years ago often no longer captures the hearts of people today. One of the results of the fast pace of change in today’s culture is that what captures people’s hearts often changes right along with it.
Because of that, having a plan to capture the hearts of people is actually dead in the water before it gets started. If roads and streets were always shifting, good luck in making a plan to get somewhere. The plan you made yesterday would not work today to get somewhere and the plan you made today would not work tomorrow.
That’s why it is imperative for congregations to be always shifting, not in core mission, but in how that mission is carried out.
It is often bemoaned that many of my and successive generations have been and are leaving congregations, but maybe that is the case because congregations have not captured the hearts of those leaving. Congregations have not sought to have a finger on the pulse of their communities and the people of them, always seeking to ascertain what today captures hearts.
Just like preceding generations, there are things that capture the hearts of the younger generations today. It may be a career. It may be family. It may be friends. It may be a leisure activity. It may be volunteering in some way. It may be impacting lives in some way. Whatever it may be, something has captured their hearts and, therefore, is given time and priority.
The problem is that what congregations were and have been offering no longer captures the hearts of many, but many congregations refuse to do the work necessary to continually have a finger on the heartbeat of the people in their community and then to be willing, as it keeps its finger there, to be shifting constantly in how it seeks to capture the hearts of people.
There are many who bemoan the number of people who aren’t willing to get up early enough on a Sunday morning to attend a worship gathering of a congregation. But what I know is this – if what happens during that worship gathering is found valuable by that person and that valuable thing has captured his/her heart, I can say with a very high degree of certainty that that person will make a great effort to get out of bed in time to be at that worship gathering.
So, it’s about capturing the hearts of people. When the heart is captured, then those people are drawn in, and then we can share about why we do what we do. We can share about what God has done through Jesus, if that person has never made a faith commitment. Or we can get people more active in the mission of capturing the hearts of others.
Whatever it may be, it’s all about capturing the hearts of people. And that requires always having a finger on the heartbeat of people in our communities and then being willing to shift as it changes because it will change.
In a constantly changing landscape, the only thing for which we can plan is change. And when we understand that fact, then, instead of planning, we prepare ourselves to meet the change by shifting how we carry out the core value of capturing people’s hearts.
What matters is capturing people’s hearts, not how it’s done. When how it happened “yesterday” is made to be the way that it is done no matter the situation of “today,” then how it is done has been made the non-negotiable. And that’s when things start going downhill, picking up speed all the time.
Want to see a resurgence? Then let’s do the work of having a finger on the pulses of people and go where that leads.