“I keep drilling, hoping for different results.”
“But isn’t that a waste of money and time?”
“Not if I strike water.”
“But how will that ever happen if you keep doing it the same way?”
“Maybe if I use a different method, drill deeper, use better equipment…maybe then I’ll strike water.”
“Have you thought that all that money and time could be spent on piping water from another well or, maybe, a good rainwater harvesting system?”
“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” said O’Malley.
So many churches use the “O’Malley Method.” Just keep doing the same things over and over, hoping for different results. Our “drilling” is our assembly or, as it is mistakenly called, “The Worship Service.” It is the method of choice for outreach. “How do we get them to ‘come to church?’ Oh, I know, let’s make assembly better! Better singing, exciting sermons, the latest presentation technology, nicer buildings. Everyone should invite someone to church (assembly). Okay, I know, it hasn’t worked so far, but maybe we should just try something new…something different. Let’s have a worship team leading the singing. Let’s try some dramatic lighting. Maybe we should get rid of the pulpit and let the preacher wander around. Maybe he should dress in jeans and polo shirt.
Somehow we have been deceived into thinking that the most important part of Christianity is the assembly. We focus on what happens when we come together. It becomes the major event…the “be all and end all.” Churches fuss about what can and cannot be done in them. It’s how we judge other churches. It’s what we divide over. We measure success by warm bodies in attendance and how much they give in “the offering.”
Here’s the irony: we claim to follow a man who never spoke of an assembly and spent precious little time in them. Aside from some work in a synagogue or two, he did all his work outside, among the people. It was not easy or comfortable but it was what he came to do. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19) not merely preach to the saved.
If we don’t change our focus from assemblies to following Christ, we are in danger of fading into obscurity. The church in Australia, America or anywhere else, cannot survive by doing the same ineffective things the same ineffective way and expect effectiveness to magically result.
No one asked for my opinion, but Mr. O’Malley had better change his focus or he will remain dry. We had better change ours or we will dry up and blow away.