A Minister’s Take On Church Steps Outreach (Part 3) by Jimmy Hinton

This is Jimmy Hinton’s third and final blog on how the Church Steps Outreach has been working for their congregation. I am so encouraged by this! Thanks Jimmy for passing this along. Praise God that He is up to some mighty things when it comes to reaching the lost!

In the two previous blogs, I laid down some of the guiding principles and theology behind what we do for our Church Steps Outreach.  This final blog will lay down some specifics for what a typical week looks like. I called Matt last fall to ask specific questions about how they do their steps outreach.  He did give some specifics, but told me that one size doesn’t fit all.  For example, Pennsylvania’s culture is different than Florida’s.  St. Petersburg’s population is 245,000.  Somerset’s is almost 7,000.  You get the picture.  We ended up keeping the same 5 steps that Matt laid out in previous blogs (Attract, Welcome, Relationships, Transformation, and Integrate).  We also use the same template that Matt uses at his congregation for our Wednesday nights (see link below under #2), but with minor adjustments.  For example, instead of a 20 minute devotional, we do 30 minutes, with the remaining 30 minutes working through the template.

Because we are a rural church, Wednesday attendance has always suffered.  Before beginning Steps, our average Sunday attendance was just over 70 and our Wednesday attendance hovered around 20.  Since 20 people were present on Wednesdays, we began with all of them.  I took adequate time to explain what each of the 5 steps were, then had everyone sign up to minister in one group.  Several asked me where I felt they would serve best.  I emphasized that people should pray about it and only sign up for a group where they would best be using their gifts.  In other words, they shouldn’t sign up for a group just because it looked like that group needed more warm bodies.  We all worked together to organize us 20 into the best group possible for each of us.

 Wednesday Nights:

1. 30 minute devotional—The devotional is always rooted in scriptures about evangelism and the church’s response to new converts.  We began with 1 Corinthians 12-14 and are now going through Acts.  This is really helping us all develop a healthy theology of evangelism and the examples laid out in Acts are giving us courage and confidence to model the behavior of the first Christians.

2. 30 minute template—Don’t let the word template scare you.  I probably prefer the word “structure” over template but either way, the point is that you are consistent each week.  You can see a copy of Matt’s template here: https://mattdabbs.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/churchstepsclasstemplate.pdf  We do everything the same except the times have been adjusted.  In 3 months, the only thing we have changed at this point are the time adjustments.  This structure is so important because it allows everyone to communicate and celebrate what blessings have been going on throughout the week, where new visitors are in their journey, and who has/has not been contacted throughout the week.

3.  How do we keep it all together?–Communication, communication, communication.  As I mentioned before, e-mails are a lifeline for us.  I’ve created distribution lists for each of the 5 groups in my e-mail contacts.  They are always kept current as we add people to each group.  I remind each of the 5 groups almost weekly how important each of their ministries are and offer them encouragement (usually through a mass e-mail to all 5 groups at once).  I took a lot of time this week and, for the first time, e-mailed each of the 5 groups a separate e-mail with some reflections and suggestions to fine-tune their specific ministry.  Then I emphasized the need for each of the 5 groups to have weekly contact within their own group so that they know who (of the new people) they are responsible for.  We have tried to not let one week go without having some sort of contact with our new people.  Until they are fully integrated into the church, they will need very consistent contact with their new church family.

4.  Not just a way to get new people—Everything we do is deeply, I mean deeply, rooted in God’s commission for us to reach a lost and dying world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  If people are doing this to pad their numbers at church, new people will see through them immediately and run.  We are all being driven by a love for God and a love of neighbor.  We reach people because we love them and care about them, not because we want to grow the church.  Though there is a structure in place, we must never lose sight that we are doing this because we genuinely love people, want them to join our family, and want to spend eternity with them.  We reach everyone the same regardless of social-economic status.  We have no target demographic.  We have no agenda.  We simply call others to join us in blessing people, teaching them, and joining together as the body of Christ in response, to further grow, equip, and mature.

Why We Junked Mission Statements

Four years ago we had an elders/staff retreat to discuss the future direction of Northwest. In these types of retreats, we would collectively work through a number of things in regard to vision, mission and purpose as a congregation. As a part of this discussion we decided it was time to re-think our mission statement and re-work it to be more relevant to where we were as a congregation. The first step in a task like that is to put down what the current mission statement is. As we all started to write down our current mission statement…some of us were scratching our heads a little trying to come up with it. We didn’t know it because we never use it. That was an “aha” moment for us that lead to a change in how we structure some of what we do.

For us, the mission statement was one of those things that used to look really nice on a banner that had hung there so long that no one even paid attention to it anymore. We realized having a mission statement, in and of itself, did nothing. It was just a statement. It couldn’t act. It couldn’t move. It was just words. Passive, descriptive purpose…unable to do anything on its own. We also realized that if the leadership doesn’t know it, the congregation doesn’t know it. They didn’t know it because we hadn’t made it memorable in any real sense. It is not that it wasn’t memorable in a catchy kind of way it was that it wasn’t memorable because it hadn’t caught on. It hadn’t caught on because it wasn’t being visibly and consistently represented in what we said and did and looked forward to as a congregation. That was when we decided to junk our mission statement. We haven’t had one sense. If you aren’t going to use it, don’t put it out there. It just communicates that we are just as confused about what it means as you are.

Here is what we have done instead – annual themes. Each year we pick a theme that we think adequately reflects something we need to prioritize that year as a congregation. We communicate the theme to the congregation in January. Then we use that theme as a filter for the things we do, for some of our sermons, fellowship activities, etc. It doesn’t encompass everything we do but we try to make sure it is put into action. I guess it is a mini-mission statement of sorts…a sort of temporary focal point that helps get us to the next step in our development.

A helpful resource on creating and casting effective and memorable vision is Andy Stanley’s book “Making Vision Stick“. A very quick and helpful read. Here is a summary of that book here on the blog back in June.

The Biggest Issues Being Discussed in Christianity Are All Connected

There are several topics that come up over and over again in Christian circles, particularly among church leaders, including:

  • Reforming our ecclesiology, the idea that our worship needs an overhaul and…
  • The segregation of the church into professionalized, age-specific ministries and the pitfalls that brings…and
  • The failure of parents and youth ministry to disciple our kids and…
  • Recognizing God’s mission for his church and how many churches have remained too institutional and neglected the biblical mission of the church which all leads to…
  • Losing our young adults – the mass exodus of 18-28 year olds from church

These are not separate issues.
All these issues feed into each other in an interconnected ecosystem that we call the church. They cannot be dealt with on an individual basis. These are systemic issues that all work from a common core problem. I believe that core problem is our identity. Have we forgotten who we are? Have some preached Christ divided where the Bible proclaims Christ united? Is the body, then, only a body if it includes who we are comfortable with. Instead of wrapping our identity in Christ, some have exchanged that idea for a seemingly tight-knit, deductive system that is able to defeat all false doctrine, doing so without a dose of humility and love. Our identity get wrapped up in being right, having perfect doctrine and being undefeatable by the denominations. Find that for me in the Bible somewhere…

So who are we and how does that impact these interconnected issues? Once we fully identify with Jesus (which is God’s ultimate goal for our lives, Rom 8:29-30 & 2 Cor 3:18)

  • Our worship and worshippers become so Christ-focused that our ecclesiology is no longer an issue (whether semi-archaic or technologically advanced) because they are so in love with the Lord and giving him their best that the bells and whistles become periphery. People who come into the worship will not be wowed by multiple powerpoint screens but by the Spirit that is at work within the congregation. Which would you rather draw them with anyway?
  • Segregation in the church becomes a church united, where intergenerational ministry is taking place and not just ministry TO all the generations at once but the generations ministering together, engaging in the mission of God at the same time rather than in isolation from each other (our current system is like just having a hand throw a game-winning touchdown…just shouldn’t work like that).
  • Parents are then reconnected with their kids in a spiritual setting and they are equipped to intentionally disciple their children. They see the need and their responsibility to do that because they realize just how much their kids need Jesus and how no one else will do a better job of teaching them than they will.
  • When the body comes together like this, with Jesus as our focus, the church’s mission naturally flows out of our identity and our practices become more in line with the ministry of Jesus and less concerned with the perpetuation of an institution.
  • Which results in our young people growing up with real faith that will last through their adult years because they know and love Jesus and our attrition numbers begin to decline.

These problems are all interconnected. We cannot just put band aids on symptoms. We have to get underneath it all and start addressing the core issues and I believe it all goes back to claiming the wrong or misplaced identity and putting our trust in the wrong things. I hope this post doesn’t sting too hard…it is not meant to be a rebuke. I also know not all churches suffer from this to the same degree. Also, this is not strictly a “church of Christ” issue but that many churches of all sorts of different denominational affiliations are trying to navigate this. I am afraid, we are taking this piecemeal and fear we won’t be able to solve a systemic issue by only focusing on one or two parts and missing the interconnection. This post is meant to help unpack where some congregations are at in this so we can move forward in healthy ways. The elephant is in the room for some, will anyone be willing to talk about it?

Here is What is Creating a Disconnect in our Churches and Why So Many Leave (Leadership & Ministry Lessons Part 6)

I have been writing a series of posts on leadership in ministry based on the book Combat Leadership by Captain Adolf Von Schell. This sixth post is probably the most important one yet. So important, that I changed the title in hopes of getting more response out of this one. Please read the whole post, especially if you are in church leadership.

In chapter 6, Von Schell reminds the reader that training for war and real war are two different things. When you are training, everything goes just right but it is never like that in the real world. Here is how he put it,

“In our peacetime map problems, war games and field exercises, we have simple situations. There is no uncertainty, nothing goes wrong, units are always complete. Every company has its appropriate number of officers. Every battalion has its commander…Long written orders are published and in an unbelievably short time, reach the individual to whom they are addressed, who promptly carries them out. Every man has his map and compass. He knows that the attack will be pushed forward in the exact direction of the 179 1-2 degree magnetic azimuth.”

What he is saying here is that up to this point in history, combat training assumed ideal conditions where ideal orders are given, everyone is present, communication is perfect and everyone has their map and compass pointed the right way all the time, every time with more precision than you would be able to do with bullets going over your head. He goes on,

“In war it is quite otherwise. There is no situation that our imagination can conjure up which even remotely approaches reality. In peace we have only grammar school tactics. But let us never forget that war is far more advanced than a high school. Therefore, if you would train for the realities of war, take your men into unknown terrain, at night, without maps and give them difficult situations. In doing so use all the imagination you have. Let the commanders themselves make their decisions. Teach your men that war brings such surprises that often they will find themselves in apparently impossible situations…Every solider should know that war is kaleidoscopic, replete with constantly changing, unexpected, confusing situations. Its problems cannot be solved by mathematical formulae or set rules…All armies of the world learn, in peace time, how to write long, beautifully constructed orders. I believe that it is correct to learn to think of everything and to forget nothing, but we must never lose sight of the fact that, in a war of movement, our orders must be brief and simple.”

His point is that training must reflect the realities of what you are training people for. When you look at publications that tell you how to run a specific ministry, do evangelism, discipleship, or any of a number of things this is too often true. We are presented and trained for ideal circumstances where your staff has every gift imaginable and where life never seems to get in the way. How do we train people in ministry “in the trenches” rather than just sitting at desks in a classroom? How do we train Christians in ways that are real and relevant to the world they live in? Often Sunday seems too disconnected from Monday. We train for the ideal but the world will never be ideal. So why do we keep training like it is?

He continues,

“There is a tendency in peace time to conduct training by use of stereotyped situations which are solved by stereotyped solutions. In war, however, we cannot say, ‘This situation is so and so and according to the rules which I have learned, I must attack or defend.’ The situations that confront one in war are generally obscure, highly complicated and never conform to type. They must be met by an alert mind, untrammeled by set forms and fixed ideas.

In our peacetime tactical training we should use difficult, highly imaginative situations and require clear, concise and simple orders. The more difficult the situation, the more simple the orders must be. Above all let us kill everything stereotyped; otherwise it will kill us.” (p.63-64)

Kill the stereotype or it will kill us. What is he saying there? He is saying that in the classroom, there are perfect formulas that work every time but step away from your desk and onto the battlefield and those same formulas no longer look as relevant. Here it is, I am convinced that what Von Schell is saying here is one of the most important lessons we can learn in ministering in the 21st century. The culture we live in is no longer predominantly Christian. People are getting shot at all the time. Then they come in on Sunday or Wednesday and get trained for a world that exists only in the classroom and only in the mind. There may be application but not necessarily for the world they live in.

This is why there is such a disconnect today, especially with young people. What Von Schell is saying here is perfectly describing the disconnect young people especially feel in the assembly. In order to address it we have to change our tactics. We have to change our training. We have to understand the real world and understand how Christians can live in it and support one another through it, much like soldiers huddled together in a war zone. As I type that I am reminded of what Mike Breen wrote in Multiplying Missional Leaders,

“Sending people out to do mission is sending them out to a war zone. When we don’t disciple people the way Jesus and the New Testament talked about, we are sending them out without armor, weapons or training. This is mass carnage waiting to happen. How can we be surprised when people burn out, quit and never return to the missional life (or to the church for that matter?) How can we not expect that people will feel used and abused?” (p.12)

Have you all experienced this? How have we missed it?

For those who want to read more reflections on Combat Leadership, here are the other parts to date:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  5. Part 5

Problems with Missional

There have been some posts addressing the problems with the missional movement. Here are a few you may want to read:

Scot McKnight’s post Test Your Church. Scot’s post is not so much a slam on missional as a whole, he endorses much of what is good about missional church. In the process he does offer some critique of those who talk more mission than are actually engaged in any form of mission.

Mike Breen’s Why the Missional Movement Will Fail (HT: Eric Brown). Breen says the problem with missional is that it is like a car without an engine. You are trying to spin the wheels without anything powerful pushing the process along. He says the engine that should turn the wheels is (as would be expected from Mike) none other than discipleship. He says this,

If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples…

If you’re good at making disciples, you’ll get more leaders than you’ll know what to do with. If you make disciples like Jesus made them, you’ll see people come to faith who didn’t know Him. If you disciple people well, you will always get the missional thing. Always.

We took 30 days and examined the Twitter conversations happening. We discovered there are between 100-150 times as many people talking about mission as there are discipleship (to be clear, that’s a 100:1). We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King….

Look, I’m not criticizing the people who are passionate about mission…I am one of those people. I was one of the people pioneering Missional Communities in the 1980′s and have been doing it ever since. This is my camp, my tribe, my people. But it has to be said: God did not design us to do Kingdom mission outside of the scope of intentional, biblical discipleship and if we don’t see that, we’re fooling ourselves. Mission is under the umbrella of discipleship as it is one of the many things that Jesus taught his disciples to do well. But it wasn’t done in a vacuum outside of knowing God and being shaped by that relationship, where a constant refinement of their character was happening alongside of their continued skill development (which included mission).

The truth about discipleship is that it’s never hip and it’s never in style…it’s the call to come and die; a “long obedience in the same direction.” While the “missional” conversation is imbued with the energy and vitality that comes with kingdom work, it seems to be missing some of the hallmark reality that those of us who have lived it over time have come to expect: Mission is messy. It’s humbling. There’s often no glory in it. It’s for the long haul. And it’s completely unsustainable without discipleship.

This is the crux of it: The reason the missional movement may fail is because most people/communities in the Western church are pretty bad at making disciples. Without a plan for making disciples (and a plan that works), any missional thing you launch will be completely unsustainable.

I can’t think of any better way to say it. I had a hard time knowing when to cut off this quote because I just kept saying, “Yes, yes, yes” through his whole post.” Also see his followup post, “Why the missional movement will fail Part 2”.

Jason Coker’s “The Problem with Missional. He points to several problems in missional movements including: too much decentralization, too much branding and marketing of missional as a cookie cutter or overlay to put on top of existing churches (I would add without addressing the underlying issues that run counter to the very missional culture they are trying to foster).

Coker believes missional is “fading fast” due in part to a cultural shift in America that just isn’t interested in what new flavor is being taste tested at the local church. What is more Coker says that our approaches to discipleship appear weird to outsiders and that the solution is to speak to what “irreligious people” care about the most…

What regular, irreligious people care about passionately are their families and friends, their recreation and entertainment, and their dreams and goals for a better life. They also care about the local issues, institutions, and policies that make their lives more difficult. Beyond that, if there’s time to think about it, most people care about the turmoil in the world too – most just don’t know what to do about it.

Here are some specifics about how he sees that conversation taking place that includes a radical change in how we see “church”,

Here’s one idea: what if we stopped seeing our pet versions of church and the gospel as products to sell, and embraced “church” as a social strategy instead? The gospel would become the message about who we are and what we’re doing and the church would become the means of organizing. We wouldn’t be constantly strategizing about how to get people in to church and how to keep them in church – because the church becomes the strategy for affecting radical social change. This would allow for churches of all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of short-term and long-term of missions, full of people with all kinds of beliefs. Some of these church would intentionally end after a period of time, other would likely last a lifetime. Some might be locally rooted, others might transcend location.

Just one idea. Maybe it could work. After all, the Christian ecclesia – gathered in response to a herald of Christ’s new commonwealth and empowered by faith in the same – has been the single most dynamic and effective means of positive social change in history. Maybe it would be smart to get back to that.

Whatever the solution, if the American Church is going to thrive beyond the next generation, we’ll need a coherent translation of the gospel that captures people’s imaginations about what’s possible in and around the issues they care deeply about. But to do that, the gospel itself will have to be liberated from it’s own Modern cultural and sectarian moorings (and some of our Christian mores too).

Will that change come through the mission church? I hope so. Probably not. But one way or the other I suspect most of us will live to see the utter decimation of the American church in its old form and a breathtaking resurgence in a new one.

I think Coker is on to something here. The first is that our definition of “church” is changing and the definition you assign to that term will play a huge role in how you move forward. Do you view church as static or dynamic? Are we to be stuck in the 1st century or have the freedom to be Christ’s community in the 21st century? Is it about a facility and a specific hour each week or about a community? How we define church and what flows out of that definition is vitally important and it is imperative that we allow scripture to inform our definition. Second, I agree with Coker that “church” as past generations have understood it is being “decimated” and believe something more biblical and powerful is going to arise from the ashes. Young people today have a great zeal and will do some crazy things for God…they need to balance that boldness with wisdom and knowledge of God and His Word.

Where I have some disagreement with Coker what drives the content of our conversation. I agree that we have to be answering questions people are actually asking, I don’t believe that our talking points need to be based on what people in the world believe are most relevant to their lives. Now, I am all about relevance and think you have to be relevant but I am also keenly aware that non-Christians don’t know all the things that are most relevant or needed in their lives. The Gospel is entirely relevant but it often runs counter to the thoughts and ways of the world (appearing even as foolishness, Paul would say). My only point being, what is more relevant to lost people won’t always be received as relevant at first but that can’t keep us from talking about what they most need to hear. Words like sin, right/wrong, and moral absolutes are not always popular…but they are biblical.

Last, my fear for the missional conversation is that it will run the route of the emerging/emergent conversation (when was the last time you discussed that with anyone?). The nail in the coffin of that conversation was the lack of a unified definition. Everyone defined it however they wanted to such an extent that the conversation came to a screeching halt because there wasn’t a unified vision for what was even being discussed. Seems to me that is what is happening with missional to some degree.

For a third post on this see David Fitch’s Is Missional Doomed?

James McCarty’s Thoughts on Why Young People Are Leaving Churches of Christ

James McCarty wrote an interesting post on why young people are leaving Churches of Christ: Homeless: An Essay on the Ecclesial Lives of Young Adults from the Churches of Christ

James lays out 5 reasons he believes young people are leaving Churches of Christ and then ends the post with some words for those young people and some words for the churches who are losing them. His five reasons include:

  1. Rejecting the old claim that Churches of Christ are the only ones going to heaven.
  2. Rejection of legalism
  3. Dissatisfaction of the teaching and ministries of the church as too narrow/not relevant to them
  4. Rejection of the church aligning itself with the Republican party
  5. Desire for racial diversity in the church

Going beyond symptoms to the heart of the matter:
If you haven’t read James’ post you should. I think he makes some good points. These five things could be said of all kinds of different denominations. This is not a unique list for churches of Christ. I am not certain that his five points get to the heart of what is really happening here. I think this is more of a symptom checklist of some deeper issues that have to be uncovered if we are going to move forward. You could “fix” all five of his points and still have young people leaving the church.

Two Underlying Issues:
First, in almost all of the discussions I have heard on this problem we have framed the problem as young people leaving the church. When you are concerned about young people leaving the church the metric you use to assess their spiritual health is whether or not they return to attending on Sunday. The problem is, these guys attended church for 18-25 years and then left. First and foremost this is about bringing people to Christ. If you can do that the church part will naturally flow out of it but if all you are concerned about is church attendance then you are winning them to the wrong thing. I give Eric Brown credit for opening my eyes to that point. Eric and I talk about these things pretty frequently and I am very appreciative of his perspective on this.

The second underlying issue is how do we define church and is there is discrepancy between how the older and younger generations view and define church? That question has to be followed up with this question – How is “church” defined by scripture and how do both “sides” need to adjust to have a more biblical approach? Both generations will have some helpful points in defining church and both will have areas where they need to adjust their view to something that is more biblical as well as cognizant of people who are of another generation.

How we define church is a combination of our scripture and worldview. For example, the older generation has a love for teaching. Teaching is just as biblical as community. Teaching is a part of their DNA due to the combination of worldview and what they gravitate to in the practices of the early church. What I mean by that is this…the early church did many things that we can read about in the Bible. We are all reading the same Bible but different generations gravitate to different aspects or practices of the early church. Worldview influences the parts we pick and the parts we ignore or discard. The older generation has a modern worldview. They value information and grew up in doctrinal debates where they had to “study to show thyself approved.” They also value church attendance as a marker of the faithful. Church attendance for them is defined as being at the building at a particular time on Sunday. Nothing else counts (I am overgeneralizing here…I understand that). What ends up happening is “church” ends up being defined through two lenses: what we read about in the Bible (the culture of the first century church) and contemporary culture (influences the traditions we develop and the scriptures we emphasize as our reading of the Bible is filtered through what we already value/believe to be important).

Being the 21st century church
We all have to be aware of how our worldview/culture influences the way we view and define “church” and we all have to realize that our view can always be improved. At the same time, we can get so caught up trying to be the first century church that we fail to be the 21st century church. In other words, we get so caught up on the forms of how we do things and imitating them, that we fail to personally develop and embody the heart of Jesus in our communities today. Eric Brown said this really well at the Spiritual Growth Workshop this year when he said, “The first century church was not trying to be the first century church. The first century church was trying to be Jesus.”

There is more I would like to say about this but I am curious what you guys think so far.

Multiplying Missional Leaders by Mike Breen

My favorite book on ministry just got knocked down to my second favorite book on ministry. Until this last week Andy Stanley’s Seven Practices of  Effective Ministry was my favorite. Mike Breen’s Multiplying Missional Leaders has taken the top spot. There are a lot of people who talk about things like discipleship, a few who know how to do it and still even fewer who can clearly communicate how others can do it, what it looks like, etc. This book does exactly that.

When I finished the Jesus 101 study I wanted to work on a followup study and I landed on the topic of discipleship. The more and more I have thought about it I keep coming back to the importance of discipleship over just involving people in the programs of the church. The problem is, in order to disciple people you can only really dig in with a few people at a time. That means in order to disciple the whole congregation it would take me the rest of my life and I still couldn’t get to everyone. Even if all the ministers and elders adopted the practice of discipling people it would still be impossible. This book tells you how to disciple leaders who are equipped to disciple others. That is the missing piece.

I am going to do a thorough review of this book in the next week until then, if you haven’t read this book please do. If you are a minister or an elder you need to read this book. Then when we get to discussing it we can have a more fruitful conversation!

This is Discipling – Video by Foursquare

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.

HT: Eric Brown

I wonder if we don’t make things too complicated.

The Mission In Our Own Backyard

The very last thing Jesus said before he ascended into heaven was this, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). I think too often we get so focused on the ends of the earth that we don’t give much thought to all the space between here and there.

We were talking about the mission of the church in our Sunday morning Bible class yesterday. Someone mentioned a relative who had done a mission trip in their own hometown. That really got me thinking about how we think about mission work. The traditional model of short term missions is to spend a week or two in another country. You raise support to cover costs and then you go. After a short amount of time you return home where life typically settles back in to the normal routine.

Now, back to the mission in our own backyard. What if we raised money (or even spent our own money 😉 helping people in our neighborhood or city? In September our congregation is going to paint some homes in our community. If this is actually a mission, which it is, why not raise support to get as many needs met as possible? We do it overseas, why not do it in our communities and let our lights shine with those who live nearby and that we can continue to reach out to months and years later? Why do we disconnect missions overseas and our mission in our own backyard? Why do we raise support for one but not the other? Why are we willing to personally sacrifice our time, talents and resources for people halfway around the globe but not for people at home? How much more effective would we be at reaching non-Christians if our perspective on this changed and we really started investing in those around us?

What Would Churches Look Like If…

we really did the things that were most important and spent less time doing insignificant things that happen just because we always have?

I sometimes wonder what my ministry would consist of if I evaluated it through the lens of a similar question…which things do I do just because they are habit and which things do I really need to do because they are the most important things that could possibly get done?