James Bryan Smith: The Encouraging Community

"While it may be true that treating churchgoers as consumers by trying to meet their stated needs may make them feel more comfortable, by lowering our expectations of them as active participants we are decreasing the possibility of genuine transformation."... "I want a community who will take an interest in my well-being, a community who is not afraid to ask me to make a commitment to my own spiritual growth and service to others, a community who dares to offer me a reliable pattern of transformation and then backs it up by challenging me to enter into some form of accountability in order to help me meet our commitments." ... "I know three things from experience. First, people rise to the level of expectation. We fail because we do not ask for accountability and commitment. Second, people intuitively know that when things are made easy there is little chance that any good will come from it. We lower our expectations because we think people will respond in greater numbers, but in reality we do them no service, and most people sense this. Third, while not everyone in every church is ready to make a commitment to transformation, there are many who are ready and are not being challenged. Far too much attention is being paid to getting people to come to church, and far too little is paid to those who are hungering for a deeper life with God."

(James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful Community, Ch. 6: "The Encouraging Community")