Survey’s tell us that 90% of the people who visit a local church make up their minds within 20 minutes whether to ever return. For us that means before the choir has sung or the pastor preaches – they’ve made up their minds about coming back. Now that should tell us that we need to be changing the way we interact with new faces in our church!
What are the 7 things we should give up in order to reach visitors and unchurched people?
1 – Music: It should occur to you that we all have a different all-time favorite song. That we may even have a different favorite genre’. That for each of you who like the 40’s sound there are a bunch who like the Motown sound of the 60’s. And how about the younger 30 to 50 year old’s – what music do you suppose they like. My guess it’s not endless versions of the Old Rugged Cross and Nearer My God to Thee. It could be the stuff you hear on Z88.3 FM and similar stations. Would your relationship with Christ be damaged if you were singing something other than hymns and dirges? I don’t think so. But it may be a welcoming sound to visitors to have some mixture of tradition, contemporary, jazz, blues and maybe even some Motown sound. Would you be willing to give up some of your preferred music in order to reach and welcome the lost?
2 – Politics: I’m not sure politics has been this divisive in a generation or two. I know people who have stopped watching the news and social media because they’ve just grown weary of the divisiveness. It’s everywhere: TV, at work, in school, on the radio, in the senior center, in your circle of friends and neighborhood. You hear it in the checkout line at the grocery store and you hear it at church.
By definition, the church needs to include people who are different than you. People of a different political persuasion are a blessing not the enemy. Politics matter but it can’t change the world the way the gospel can and has. Should Christians vote? Of course. Should Christian run for office? Absolutely. We need more women and men of character and conviction in government. But the church doesn’t exist to elect or defeat politicians. It exists to glorify Christ and grow His Kingdom in the world.
God is not a Republican, a Democrat, a conservative, a liberal, a progressive or a socialist. He transcends all our political categories – no matter how important they are to us. Think of it this way – if God has all the same opinions your political party has , you’re probably not worshipping God. Just about the worst thing you can do at church is bring up your politics. Let’s give that up too. Be about the Kingdom – that’s what the scriptures tell us to do!
3 – Style: We all seem to have an opinion about everything. From the coffee we serve, the sweets before and after fellowship, the color of paint to the color of the robes the pastor doesn’t wear. We stress over should the greeters be in shirt and tie or flip-flops and shorts. Christians leave churches and try to divide churches over these kinds of issues. You know what it is – it has a name - pettiness!
What if we ran each one of these thoughts and opinions through a new filter? Instead of running it through the filter of what you like , run it instead through a filter of whether what you do is effective in reaching the people we are trying to reach. What if that was the ultimate barometer – not your personal opinion, preference or likes, but what and how we are doing things in the church and its impact on reaching people for Christ.
So just ask yourself next time you're about to spout off about some preference you have – is what we are doing helping to build the kingdom? Isn’t that more important than your personal opinion and preference?
4 – Buildings: Sometimes churches get more attached to the buildings than to the mission. Christians should always be willing to give up their buildings to reach more people. The original disciples didn’t have any building and their work was amazingly successful. Yes, we do need to maintain our infrastructure and property assets. But let’s ask another question – on the priority list of things important to Kingdom work – does the color of the carpet matter? If the church is clean, it matters. If the nursery is safe, clean and well stocked with baby supplies – it matters. If the Kids for Christ room is inviting and clean – it matters. If the Air Conditioning works in the Sanctuary - it matters. The list goes on and on. But in so doing let’s remember – the steeple doesn’t bring anyone in or welcome anyone – you do. Let’s give up an overabundance of focus on structures and focus on others.
5 – Money: DPC has enjoyed ten (10) years of being in the “black” financially. That is something profound in today’s world of failing churches. Let’s remember that a major effort is taken each year to be great stewards of what is given in tithes and offering. Your Session is diligent and prayerful in making financial decisions that provide the opportunity for the church to be focused on outreach, missions and growing faith in those who fellowship at DPC. Where are we lacking? We are lacking in having a financial base that allows us to do even more. This is the only church I have been associated with that doesn’t have an endowment fund. A fund in savings that provides for the long range financial security of the church. Let’s give up a short-term view of giving and consider a long-term view that will last beyond our lifetimes. What can you give up toward an endowment fund?
6 – TIME: Being the church is about a lot more than showing up for an hour on Sunday or watching the service on the website. If you are really going to reach the next generation, if it’s really about them and not us, then it means giving your time too. Authentic Christianity is more about what we give than what we get. Our giving of time or money doesn’t earn our salvation, of course, but it is a joyful response to a God who gave everything for us. Let’s consider giving up more of our time for the work of the Kingdome through DPC.
7 – Our Lives: We have this wonderful story we claim as our own. Because of that story, Christians should be the most generous and selfless people on the planet. Sadly, we’re often known as the stingiest and most selfish (ask any non-Christian who’s worked at a restaurant.) The Gospel calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live. We are called to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves. Jesus said, “ if you give your life away, you find it.” When we die to ourselves, our wants, our preferences, our way of doing things… something greater rises. A disciple.
So there – that’s seven identified things you can give up to help reach the unchurched, the lost, the needy. Be a part of the effort. Be a part of something far greater than yourself. Be a part of something that makes an eternal difference. Join the adventure!
Excerpted from an article by Carey Nieuwhof / edited by J. McLaurin