I am a Red Sox fan. A month ago my family and I went to Baltimore to see the Red Sox play the Orioles. We had great seats right next to the Red Sox dugout. There were quite a few Red Sox fans but by far we Red Sox fans were the minority.
I am a Red Sox fan because I was born and raised in Massachusetts. We still go back every summer for a vacation week and we usually take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. When the Red Sox have home field advantage at Fenway it is a whole different experience than when they are the visitors at Camden Yards.
The church used to have a home field advantage.
When an upstanding person moved to a new area they would join the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist or Catholic church. This was true especially if they wanted to do business in town.
Back when the church had home field advantage the two main social events in the life of the community were school and church. In some communities schools did not give homework on Wednesdays because that was the midweek church gathering time. Stores closed on Sunday so families could worship.
The church also enjoyed respect when it had home field advantage. The church was looked upon as a place where morals were instilled and truth was taught.
Today, and for a long time now, the church no longer enjoys home field advantage.
Persons no longer join church by default when they move to a community. There are a myriad of options on Sunday and every other day of the week for persons whether it be travel sports, shopping, traveling or catching up on chores persons were too busy to do in the week. The church has continued to lose respect year after year. Some of this the church has brought on herself with foolish squabbles or high profile indiscretions. The media though has also been all too happy to paint the church in a less than flattering light at every turn.
No one can argue that in 99.9999% of communities in the United States the church no longer enjoys home field advantage.
Why then do we as the church often continue to practice ministry, worship, evangelize and disciple like we did when we had home field advantage?
We expect that people will just come if we have good enough programs or powerful enough preaching. We hope that if we spend $3,000 on postcards somehow this will spur someone to attend church. We hope that children will come for religious instruction while we still use flannel graphs to tell them the greatest story ever told. The list could go on and on. You get the picture.
Changing the way we do things in the church because we recognize we no longer have home field advantage can fill quite a few books. One important first step is becoming aware we no longer have home field advantage.
Does your church still do ministry like it has home field advantage?