fighting the sin of becoming a boring church part-2

Broken Window Theory is the idea that your environment tells you to act. That is to say, if you live in a community with run down dilapidated buildings, with broken windows, graffiti, and trash on the streets it affects your ideas, feelings, and ultimately your behavior. In the 1980’s New York City was at the height of one the worst crime epidemics in its history. In particular perhaps one of the worst places to be, was on the New York Subway. As a result, in the mid 80’s the New York Transit Authority hired George Kelling as a consultant to help with the problem. He urged them to go about combating crime in a unique manner. Clean up the subway, literally. Get rid of the trash and the graffiti. Then they began going after fare beating, people who jumped the turnstile to sneak onto the Subway without paying. Two incredibly small, non-essential, seemingly inconsequential items when you’re talking about fighting an epidemic of crime. But guess what happened. The environment of the Subway changed and with it so did the criminal behavior on the Subway.

We all know that the environment we place people in matters. And when we’re dealing with heaven and hell and not simply selling more lattes, cars, clothes, or fast food it matters all the more. Below are four simple criteria to consider when building your environments:

#1 Cultural Relevance

The best example that comes to mind is the missionary legend Hudson Taylor. Who went against all ministry norms of the time and lived among the Chinese people. Taking on their dress, style, culture, customs, and language all in an attempt to communicate the Gospel in an understandable fashion. You see this isn’t about being cool. The goal isn’t cool. The goal is tearing down hurdles to people’s hearts, and doing anything short of sin to set the table for the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of people.

#2 God’s Word must be Central

The clearest revealed message from God that we have is His Word. And it is the claims, stories, statements, principles and truths of the scripture that demand a response from the hearers. God’s Word literally sets the environment for life change and spiritual growth to happen. Because it is God’s Word, His revealed message to us, that cuts to the heart of man and accomplishes the will of God.

#3 God’s People must be Obedient

The Proverbs teach us that you become who you hang out with. That’s why perhaps one of the best tools we have to set the environment is God’s people themselves and the lives they live. Conversely there is nothing compelling about a complaining, critical, non-engaged, hearer of the Word, but not a doer of the Word, who say they have a passion for God and compassion for all but you’d never be able to tell it by their attitude, actions, how they spend their time or their money, or how they treat their neighbor. There’s nothing compelling about that…no one outside of the Church is looking for religion.

#4 Excellence Matters

The practical reality is that there is nothing compelling about things that are done half way. The old Youth Pastor adage holds true in this conversation: Don’t donate your used couch to the Youth Group…if it’s not good enough for your living room, it shouldn’t be good enough for Church either.


What does it take to build a compelling environment where people are intentionally exposed to, interact with, and respond to the Gospel?

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