In the view of one of the contributors to the story, online dating is a bit of a game changer in the way we approach relationships. The contributor expresses that it used to be relationships focused on compatibility then attributes. However, online dating has put the focus in relationships on attributes then compatibility.
How does this affect religion? I don’t know but here is a thought: A person now will church shop for just the right set of attributes they are looking for (children’s ministry, good preaching, small groups, youth program, etc.) then if these attributes are attractive then the person will look to invest in a relationship with the church. This is not an evil but it does put the desires of the individual seeker as primary to the needs of a community.
This approach also gives us all an easy out for committing to a relationship with a church community. If the attributes are not all lined up then the person can disengage with the church with little question. If the person does not like the attribute of the preacher then the person can leave. If the person has a problem with the attribute of their small group then there is no reason for the person to stay engaged in the group to try reconcile. The person can just leave the group and disengage.
This approach also gives the church a marketing strategy. We advertise our attributes. Worship times. Pictures of young people in the pews. Egg hunts. Sermon series. We can create a profile of our churches which others can look at our attributes.
But, like all profiles, there are just some things that you cannot see on a profile. And it seems to me that the things that cannot be seen on a profile are the things that really matter. A church profile can tell me attributes of different programs but it cannot tell me if the people of the church are on the way of Christ. It cannot tell me if there is a deep sense of wonder and trust in the community. It cannot tell me if church talks about God or talks to or talks with God.
It seems to me that it is the things that I cannot see on a profile are the things that really matter to me. This is why Jesus’ call to the disciples are different. Jesus just says, follow me. The disciples don’t ask about the different attributes of Jesus then, after liking what they see, then decide to follow Jesus. Rather they are able to see themselves with Jesus and then over the years learn about the attributes of Jesus.
The call of Jesus is not come and see me, but come and follow. And so should the Church’s.