Visibility, Power And The Pew

Have you noticed that the people who attend your church are a reflection of who they see on the way in the door?

Whether you are church planting or pastoring a long-standing congregation, the “face” of the church dictates who will feel comfortable in your congregation.

Visibility And The “Face” Of The Church

Whoever occupies positions of visibility and power offer a clue as to who will feel comfortable worshiping with you. People tend to worship with people like themselves.

It was a woman, Henrietta Mears, that foresaw that men would not attend a church dominated by women. Her goal was to put strong men in leadership positions (even if there was a woman better suited to the job). She could see that men are chauvinistic and have difficulty following women, while women are more tolerant of men. Call it what you want, but this idea of “male dominance” came from a very discerning woman.

But more than sex divides people when it comes to leadership, etc. If your church is controlled by white middle-class people, most congregants will reflect their skin color and economic status. A black middle-class church will do the same. It is interesting to me that most large churches in America attract a black or white middle-class audience.

Necessary Intentionality

Devoid of intentionality, church leadership tends to look like the lead pastor. The congregation then also looks like the pastor. The old cliche about a pastor reaching people ten years either side of their age carries a lot of truth.

The church I pastor, in Hawaii, works hard to spread visible leadership and power positions among the polyglot of people in our congregation. One of our two Sunday worship services is led by an Austrian supported by another Caucasian and a couple of Japanese Americans. Our second service band involves 13 people, not one of whom is white. We endeavor to reflect our population because new people will judge the church by whomever they see in front of them.

Our greeters are young and old, as is our congregation. They come from every racial and economic background.

Affirmative Action?

As to the pastoral team and church board, the same principle holds true. You might even call this affirmative action (a negative term for some, but if something works, why not try it?)

We’ve intentionally spread the net as far as we can. One reason for this is an obligation to make disciples of all people group. Another is our desire to plant churches among people who don’t look like me.

Take a look at your church through the eyes of a newcomer and you might be surprised to find that you appear user-friendly to only one kind of person. If that is the case wisdom dictates some gradual change to spread your appeal to people who look different than you.




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