Recently I read a post at bob.blog about a quote that categorizes church attendees into 3 categories, observer, consumer, and participant.
I have been thinking about this a lot, particularly the participant and observer categories.
I understand the desirability of participants from the leaders’ point of view. When the focus of the church is to fulfill the vision of the leadership, participants are an asset in accomplishing that purpose.
This makes sense when building an organization. Leaders embrace those who share their vision and are ready to move forward in helping to accomplish that vision. They grudgingly accept the un-involvement of observers who tend to sit in the last few rows.
As a full-fledged participant during my church-centered life, I had a complete lack of understanding about those who were not interested in participating.
However, now I have moved from the role of participant to that of observer. Bob suggests that those who have been hurt assume the place of observer while they find healing. While the label “wounded” may have described my back-row position at first, I don’t think it applies now.
After reading the post, I questioned whether my lack of participation was still because of hurt or fear. Honestly, I think I am an observer now is because I can no longer put my heart and life into being involved in an organization. Is there a place for observers in a church community?
It boils down to the fact that my ideas about church have changed. I now believe the purpose of a church community is to support individuals in the accomplishment of their life mission rather than to use them for the purpose of accomplishing the mission of the organization.