Outreach can sometimes be a tremendous negative for a church.
Now that I have your attention, please let me explain. Perhaps like you, I’ve been a part of churches that focused powerfully on outreach. In essence, we had very little trouble reaching folks and attracting them to our church. The “tremendous negative” came shortly thereafter when following a commitment to “give church another try” our friends and neighbors were met with the same “come join the crowd” mentality of our people.
Don’t’ get me wrong, we had awesome, wonderful people as a part of our churches. The “negative” came when we neglected to prepare the hearts of our good, church-going people for those who were yet to come. As a result, without the powerful motivation to make decisions for our church based on who had yet to call this their church, the value of new and lost people remained as it always had been – sometimes a nice gift, sometimes a distraction and overwhelming added responsibility.
In my heart, there is a disproportionate balance in ministry today to attract more than disciple, break the heart of good Christian people, and value new and lost people at the depth the Father does.
This is in no way a “gripe” comment, but rather a passionate plea to encourage pastors and leaders to prepare a church for more people before they arrive. If you’ve ever been invited to a meal someone forgot to cook, then as a Christian leader, you can relate in part to the experience so many from the world have encountered in many a church. Those experiences when we reach out to others to bring them to our building, boasting a level of care and concern and acceptance, only to have them return to you and say “We’ve decided to try someplace else because it’s too difficult to crack the shell in finding our place here.” That just shreds the heart of Christ, I have to believe.
Todd Braschler – Christian artist and conference and retreat speaker. Visit this web site for more details: www.toddbraschlerministries.com