1. If you leave “church” often thinking “Is this all there is to church,” follow this plan.
2. Stop “going to church” for 6 months.
3. Pray (every day of this six months).
4. Forget everything you think you know about “church.”
5. Pray and do good deeds.
6. Find other folks similarly seeking church – it won’t be hard.
7. Together read the gospels through two times each and that great primer on community, Richard Adams’ novel Watership Down.
8. Identify and discuss who Jesus is, who God’s people are according to Jesus, and what they are to do and why they are to do it.
9. If you have not experienced “church” for 6 months and forgotten what you think you know about “church,” the gospels should seem to be speaking about something you’ve never known before. If not, you are probably beyond help.
10. If this “something you’ve never known before” creates a desire in you to experience it, pray to the Spirit to be formed into “God’s people” and do whatever God calls you to do with the others you have found with similar longings.
I know this sounds, radical, impractical, absurd, unfaithful even. Yet I believe that if you know something is wrong or missing, you also know it’s not going to be found in the same place from which it is missing. Something needs to change. The institution of the church is not going to change – that seems pretty clear. So if you are serious about finding what you are missing, discovering church as God intended it, some radical action is needed. So let go of the “shouldas and gottas” as far as church attendance goes and trust that God will honor your desire to live more faithfully for him.
Since I’ve already been provocative if not perverse in my suggestions above, I’ll do a bit of shameless self-promotion. I have authored a book entitled The Incredible Shrinking Gospel: The Crisis of Evangelism in the 21st Century. The first part of this book will help you as the read the gospels’ accounts of Jesus. The latter part offers some reflections on the nature of community and evangelism. It is available to read or download at http://www.scribd.com/doc/78868935/The-Incredible-Shrinking-Gospel should you desire to consult it.