There can sometimes be a reflex in churches that insists every effort must be made to include everyone all of the time. Certainly, if everyone can make one time and nobody can make another, it makes sense to think about that and make decisions accordingly. But in the end, no church can do everything.
Whenever talk of something a church is doing comes up, it doesn’t take long before all the whataboutery starts. It’s great that we’re providing X, but what about Y? It’s great that X is on at this time, but what about all the people who can’t make that time? It’s great that you are reaching this group of people, but what about that group of people? It’s great that you provide for this need, but what about that need? On and on and on it goes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it can often be good to think about different things you might do as a church. Is it possible to meet a particular need that you currently aren’t is a good thought process to go through. If we are trying to serve people in the church, might moving times allow a different demographic to join in? Are people being unnecessarily excluded or are we doing things because there is only one particular way the thing will work? Are we simply blind to certain needs and people and knowing about them might alter what we do? All these are valid questions to ask and think through. The problem is not in their being asked, nor in their being thought through, but in the stymying effect whatabouttery can have on actually doing anything at all.
Let me offer you two very freeing thoughts when it comes to the church, its activities and what it might care to do. First, no church can possibly do everything. Second, not everything is for everyone. Both are absolutely okay.
First, no church can possibly do everything. If we build our church around a felt-needs approach, we will inevitably miss out some people’s felt needs. It is impossible for any church to perfectly serve the felt needs of everyone in it all the time. There will inevitably be times when somebody feels they have particular needs that aren’t being met. More to the point, the church does not exist to meet every felt need under the sun. It exists to makes disciple-making disciples and to equip them for works of service by allowing the Lord to do his work by his Word and Spirit. Whatever people’s felt-needs might be, the church is primarily there to meet a specific need.
If the result of putting on a women’s group is an immediate call of but what about the men? or what about the youth? we are essentially saying, unless we can run all these things, we will run none of them. Maybe we are in a position to run a youth group but aren’t in a position to run a men’s group. That doesn’t mean we don’t run the youth group. It just means we run what we are able, when we are able. The point isn’t to exclude and insist certain demographics don’t matter, it is just a basic response to the question, what is it feasible for us to do right now? If no church can do everything, we have to think about what we can do. If we are intent on doing what we can, it makes no sense not doing what we can do simply because there are some other things that we cannot do.