In Australia, the number of crimes committed inside churches in 2008 was 1600. In strip clubs, there were less than 300. On top of that, 85 people were assaulted in churches in 2008. Only 66 assaults happened in the strip clubs.
This quotation, courtesy of MondayMorningInsight.com, certainly gives one pause. Should we avoid church and attend strip clubs instead? Certainly, with the dwindling number of people actually worshiping and the growing number who find other things to do on Sunday, this number is even more astonishing.
Maybe the statistics do say something about church. We have a long way to go before becoming the community Paul envisioned in scripture, the Body of Christ. For sure, sinners are everywhere. In the pews and on the bar stool and around the pole. Sinlessness is not a community maker or breaker. Jesus made every single one of these people. They are all precious and are capable of loving God in the way Jesus did. Jesus also redeemed every one of these people on the Cross and gave each the same opportunity for a new life via the Resurrection. The difference should be in what kind of community is forming us.
It is easy to say that the strip club offers an artificial community where the common bond is mostly nudity and alcohol. I am sure the are some very positive stories as well. But the Church should be offering a compelling community where people lay down their lives for one another, bear each others burdens and make relating to God in prayer, scripture study and worship a priority. The bible tells us as do our Baptismal Vows that we take our commitment to each other seriously by patterning our lives around Christ. True community forms radically different (but not perfect) people. Are we missing real community in our churches, maybe spending more energy on making people happy (which the strip club might do better and which is not the Church's mission?)
I yearn for real community, biblical community. A community that makes an eternal difference. Just what is my (our) mission? In practice (not on paper, which is often ignored and not memorable, how different is it from that of the strip club?