I rushed to get to the bank and found it open. Good thing, because we chose this bank for its multiple locations and convenient hours. There was a time when people chose a bank because it looked like a bank — big vault, rigid hours, paternalistic attitude, etc. There was a time when people chose their church because it looked like a church. Big vault = high theology, rigid hours = fixed-in-the-marquee service times, paternalistic attitude=paternalistic attitude.
Churches used to emphasize membership. Today, people need to be invited to partner with you. This happens on two levels: 1) healthy congregations partner with your life to help you grow spiritually and become a better person. Small group meetings and worship services are planned as partnering events. 2) healthy congregations are in mission to transform their community and want you to partner with them.
Guess what? I’ve noticed that whenever I go to my bank I am bombarded with partnership invitations. They have a monitor running a powerpoint showing how by working together with them: I can save for retirement, repair my credit, buy a new home, etc. Paternalism is banished from their slides. This is financial discipleship formation. I can even use a mobile app to weave my bank partnership into my life 24/7.
Oh, and did I mention that they serve decent coffee? Why can’t my church be more like my bank?