Posts Tagged ‘relational ministry’
(Author’s Note: This post is part 3 of 3 in a series exploring evangelism in the next generation. To really understand the context here, please read the first two posts by clicking here.)
Matt Metzger (@mcmetzger) is the college pastor at Blackhawk Church in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s also a childhood friend of mine whom I’ve looked up to since I was 12. We still chat occasionally and I’m always blown away by his creativity and his passion to see young people follow Jesus. A while back he shared with me about some of the ways they engage people through their ministry. Here in Part 3 of my series on exploring the depths of relational ministry, I want to share Matt’s creativity and paint a portrait of what “creating an experiential framework” really looks like.
Like a lot of ministries geared towards young people, Blackhawk is actively engaged in overseas missions. In one particular case, they’ve been traveling to Honduras for a few years now, building houses and playgrounds in a specific neighborhood. About four years ago, the trip began to evolve into something much bigger.
One of the older leaders in his church decided to go back to school, enrolling in the College for Landscape Architecture (LA.) He quickly developed some meaningingful relationships with his professors, perhaps because he was closer in age to some of them than the typical student at University of Wisconsin. As those relationships grew, a conversation started about the Honduras trip. They discussed what it would look like to bring LA students on the trip, along with the Blackhawk college ministry students. After exploring the idea together, the professors not only supported it, they even offered study abroad credits to the LA students who went.
For this to work, there could be no ‘bait and switch’ type attitude. The church promoted the trip ‘as-is,’ disclosing the underlying reasons and Christ-centered purpose for going. Despite this, LA students signed up quickly. Their job in Honduras was to design playgrounds for the Blackhawk students to install. Many of the standard missions trip elements were present–daily Bible study and worship–but none were mandatory. Instead of preaching, the experience of serving families in Honduras began to reveal the Gospel to these young people. Over the course of the week, many began to sit in on the Bible studies, and many found themselves engaged in deep conversations about spiritual things with the Blackhawk students. Matt tells me there was no ‘us and them’ mentality at all. The students were in this together, and their relationships with each other grew quickly and in a very short period of time. This summer, Blackhawk will head down to Honduras with LA students and students connected in the ministry for the fourth year. Many of the LA students from past trips are going again.
Matt shared with me some of his observations about the students and the trip that I believe can help all of us see the massive value in approaching outreach this way. Firstly, he described the role of relationship. This wasn’t about the church first asking, “With whom can I be intentional about building relationships, and then how can I share Christ with them?” The whole endeavor was built upon existing relationships. Remember that the conversation began when an older leader from the church enrolled in the LA program. His friendships with his professors grew over time, and out of that came the idea to serve together. They never used ‘relationship’ as a technique or mechanism to reach people. The sanctity of the relationships was revered and preserved because there were no pre-existing expectations placed on them. The trip was a partnership, not a tactic.
Secondly, he noted that most of the LA students seemed to be ‘predisposed’ to serving. They were excited enough about doing good that they were willing to deal with their ‘evangelical’ counterparts as bunkmates. A lot of these LA students had some interesting, if not defensive, attitudes about the church. In other words, you would be hard pressed to find them attending a weekend worship service because a classmate extended an invite. Yet, when invited to serve through the church, they jumped at the opportunity. From a generational standpoint, Millennials are innately service-oriented. Giving, serving, welfare, civic-mindedness; these are all concepts found deep in the heart of the Millennials. The last generation to be wired like this is the GI (Veteran) generation, born 1901-1924. For most people alive, the idea that a generation is others-focused is quite foreign. But this is how the Millennials see the world. And this is why the approach works so well with them.
Matt leveled with me, “Adam, if your goal is to see as many people pray a prayer in the shortest time possible, this model is not for you.” The reality is that many of our evangelistic strategies are failing because our metric for effectiveness is out of step with Scripture. Thinking back on our Biblical reference in John 6, we have to remember that Jesus didn’t finish His work with the disciples right then and there. He spent three and a half years with them, providing experiential framework over and over before they really got it. Matt doesn’t do an altar call on the last night of the trip. He allows those conversations to naturally develop long after the students come home.
If we subscribe to the Great Commission, then some of us need to recalibrate what we want to see as a result of our efforts. It’s so easy to feel good about seeing people come forward after a Gospel message. I’m not even questioning whether this can work or not–it does work! Countless people have come into relationship with Christ through hearing and responding. The problem is that because it works for some, we can tend to rely on this as our primary means of evangelism. If it worked for everyone, could you imagine how many people would be in our churches? I know of churches who see hundreds come forward every weekend, but the community isn’t getting any bigger. Where are those people? What happened after they came forward? Despite our best efforts to follow up, the fact is most of these people were caught up in an emotional moment and because there was no experience with which to match the message (or any relationship that an experience would cultivate) the person walks away. At best, they’re a little more open to Jesus… at worst, they go on believing that they’ve secured a place in heaven–they understand Christianity as a religious afterthought rather than an old life transformed into a new life by the Holy Spirit.
After listening to Matt tell me about the LA students who have submitted to Christ through their experience in Honduras, and the students who haven’t, it became quite clear that while this approach is highly effective, it is no magic bullet. If that’s what you’re looking for in your ministry, I think you’ll be looking for a long time. Matt isn’t looking for THE way to reach young people with the Gospel. He has found a Biblical way that makes a lot of sense to the Millennial Generation. Isn’t that what we should all be looking for? The cool part of this is that you don’t need to go to Honduras to do it. My primary focus as a servant of the church is to develop this model in the local context. I would venture to say that we have many more opportunities to do this in our own backyard. It’s reproducable in that we can do it in Nebraska, New York City, Africa; anywhere. It’s contextual in that it’s built upon what’s happening right where you are.
Thanks so much for reading these posts. As I said earlier, we’ve arrived at a very important and special moment in history. Our choices and strategies today will have a trajectory-shaping impact over the next hundred years. I am grateful that you would engage in this exciting conversation! Please post your insights and ideas in the comments below. Also, I would LOVE to serve you. If we can work together to create evangelistic movement through your ministry, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Blessings-
A few days ago I wrote a post titled The Problem With Relational. Though convicted by the ideas, I was convinced I would lose some virtual friends once I made it public. I was unfortunately right… I’ll miss the interaction with those who decided to disassociate themselves with me, but I would respectfully restate I fully believe in what I said. I have also immensely enjoyed the numerous conversations I’ve had over the weekend. My parents (who have been in next gen ministry since 1970) even got in on it and provided compelling and encouraging responses. I’m so thankful for everyone willing to engage this challenging conversation. I believe we are at a very special and extremely important moment in history, especially concerning the church. This is the largest generation gap in recorded history and we’re at the very end of the Modern Age. The choices we make in the next 10 years will be felt long into the future. The way we approach evangelism in particular could potentially determine eternity for generations.
In order to make sense of this post, I would encourage you to read part 1, The Problem With Relational. I’ll be referring to some of the language and concepts introduced there as we explore The Solution To Relational.
In my last post, I made the claim that the Church’s growing mantra of ‘relational’ ministry has led us down a dangerous road. I said, “By replacing the propositional with the relational, we have effectively perceived and employed relationship as a technique. This categorically violates the very nature and sanctity of relationship…” In other words, using ‘relationship’ as a device or mechanism to accomplish a ministry purpose destroys the very thing we’re trying to create. Our whole mission is to develop relationship with others (Christian community) and point people to Christ in hope that they discover new life in a relationship with Him. Relationship is at the heart of the Gospel, but using it to fulfill a purpose devalues everyone involved: you, your friend, and Jesus. The question I left for you at the end of the post was this: “So, if the propositional approach makes no sense to this generation, and if we are to preserve the purity of relationship by resisiting our present inclinations to use it as a means to an end, then where does that leave us?” What’s the solution? How do we engage this generation with the Gospel for the purpose of leading people to Christ and urging each other on in pursuit of deeper intimacy with Him?
Take a look at John 6 for a moment.
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. (John 6:1-13, ESV)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40, ESV)
I have no doubt most of you know this story very well, but I want to explore it from more of an evangelistic approach. The first question needs to be, ‘who did Jesus perform this incredible miracle for?’ At first glance, we naturally assume its purpose was to satisfy the urgent hunger of the masses. And He certainly does, right? The disciples even collected 12 basket-fulls of leftovers–a sign that no one went without a full belly. I would contend, however, that Jesus had a larger purpose for His intercession. I believe Jesus did this (and many of His other works) for His disciples.
Consider the disciples for a moment. Strip away our knowledge of who these men ultimately became and just look at who they are at this point in time. The reality is that the disciples, though they were physically committed to following Jesus, could not at this time be considered ‘Christians’ as you and I consider ourselves. Exploring the validity of that statement is warranted, and I encourage you to do so as I have. I’ve heard some say Peter confirms his conversion just before his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and some would even claim it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit initiated His indwelling at Pentecost. I believe it’s safe to say though, that at this point in time they were open to the idea of Jesus being God, but they were still on the journey towards that revelation.
So, if the disciples were seekers at this point, and if you consider that the miracle on the hill was done for their benefit, then what was Jesus trying to accomplish? The narrative tells us that while Jesus could have just gotten it done and over with on His own, He instead chooses to include the disciples in both the conversation and the actual work of the miracle. He includes Philip by asking him for a solution to the problem. He includes Andrew by listening to him offer a suggestion–one that to Andrew seemed a bit ridiculous but proved to be central to what Jesus was doing. He included the disciples in the distribution and the collection of the food. Then, later on, Jesus makes a statement. He uses bread as an illustration and makes one of His most powerful presentations of the Gospel that we have on record. Yes, Jesus had a larger purpose in mind for this miracle; the salvation and sanctification of 11 men upon whom He would build His church. He knew these men would not only need to be convinced of the Gospel, He knew they would need to be left with no question of their role in it.
Creating an Experiential Framework
By including the disciples, non-believers with whom He has a relationship, in the work of the ministry, Jesus creates an experiential framework through which He is able to articulate the message of the Gospel in a way that leaves no fodder for argument, no loopholes for relativism, and no room for anything but belief and joy. This is the key to reaching and leading the next generation today, right now.
I can hear some of you say, “Well, we’re doing that. It’s called contextualization.” There’s a key difference between contextualization and creating an experiential framework though. Contextualization seeks to understand existing culture and then develop the message of the Gospel in a way that makes sense in light of it. Creating an experiential framework is environmentally formational–instead of responding to an existing culture, it builds a new culture based on the Gospel. When a non-believer is invited into this new space, he becomes the vessel through which the Gospel flows into others. He experiences its joy, but that joy is often confusing to him and requires explanation. “I am the bread of life…” Verbalizing the Gospel no longer demands lengthy theological propositions to a non-believing friend who now has an experiential framework. Attempts at making sense of the Gospel through fragmented stories and illustrations becomes unnecessary. Like Jesus, we only need to tie the message back to the experience. This inevitably provides the ‘ah-ha!’ moment (Peter says later in John 6, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”) People really get it, no one is confronted, and more importantly, the sanctity of relationship is preserved.
Creating experiential framework means that the church needs to shift the way it sees serving in our cities and communities. We’ve typically approached serving in 2D, if you will. The first dimension is us, the faithful followers of Jesus, seeking to fulfill the mission He began. The second is the recipient of the service: the hungry, the homeless and the hurting. Our hope is that by meeting their physical needs, we will build trust relationships and begin to address their spiritual needs in the process. While countless churches are truly accomplishing God’s work through this approach, it often leads to a ‘project’ or ‘event’ mindset, where we compartmentalize these endeavors. The result is that we create a disconnect between our “Christian lives” and the rest of our life. When that happens, we fail to create an experiential framework and we lose our primary opportunities to point people towards Christ–the people who God places in our lives every day.
Our view of serving in the name of Jesus becomes 3D when we apply John 6.
Dimension 1: US
Dimension 2: THE NEEDY
Dimension 3: OUR NON-BELIEVING FRIENDS
This doesn’t mean in any way that the needy are somehow less important than the others–to Jesus, they were always at the center of His work. Meeting their needs was paramount for Him, and it should be for us as well. But Jesus was inclusive in His methods. In a blink, God could eliminate poverty and hunger completely. Have we considered that maybe He calls us to serve in order to draw us nearer to Him? Of course we have, but John 6 reveals to us that He intends to draw non-believers in also. I’m not suggesting that we start ordaining people who deny Christ, just that we include these friends of ours at the basic levels of serving. We’ve gotten used to inviting our friends to ‘be at’ the church, but Jesus was inviting His friends to ‘become’ the church.
For the sake of your eyes I’m going to finish here, and in a few days I’m going to post Part 3 and give some phenomenal examples of what creating an experiential framework looks like today. That’s right–there are churches and ministries who are doing it and the stories are astounding. In the meantime, I would love your insights. Please join this important conversation and comment below.
The push for a relational approach to evangelism and ministry in general is without a doubt a direct response to long-standing church culture that has over-valued propositionalism. Younger leaders (Gen X and Millennial especially) view attempts to urge a person to faith in Christ by way of intellectual assent as inauthentic and even manipulative. The solution, at least according to many, is to shift away from logic and towards relationship. Seems like an obvious choice, but this presents what I perceive to be a catastrophic problem.
The real issue with propositionalism is not a personal one; it is generational. Boomers (born 1942-1961) and Silents (born 1920-1941) place a high value on logic and therefore almost require truth to be presented by proposition. But that view is not shared by Gen X’ers (born 1962-1981) and Millennials (born 1982-2001); they revere experience over most anything else. However, the issue of trust does concern us personally–it transcends generational tendencies. Here’s the difference though: In the older generations, trust can only be violated; in the younger generations, trust can only be earned. So if you’re dealing with a people group who is generally trusting, even during the intitial stages of acquaintance, and that people group values logic (i.e. Boomers and Silents), then propositionalism would naturally be a highly effective way to engage them for the purpose of sharing truth. There’s nothing wrong with it–it makes sense, it’s authentic to the generation, and it works. In fact, to the Boomers and Silents, it’s… get ready for it… relational! You see, relationships are defined not by time, but by trust. And it generally takes less time to build trust among the older generations than it does for the younger ones. So, the opposite of (hence the solution to) propositional is actually NOT relational.
Here’s the problem: By replacing the propostitional with the relational, we have effectively perceived and employed relationship as a technique. This categorically violates the very nature and sanctity of relationship. The moment we even acknowledge an intention to ‘use’ a relationship for any purpose, it is no longer a relationship; it becomes a vehicle. That fundamentally changes the way we view the other person. It ultimately devalues him and it damages our integrity.
Now, please don’t misinterpret the point here. Relationship is absolutely critical to evangelism, discipleship and Christian community. But it is no more essential now than it ever has been. If you’re a Boomer who grew up in the fifties and sixties, you likely placed a high value on relationship (you still do, I’m certain). When you dismiss “relational” or “friendship” evangelism for example, it’s because to you it seems a bit redundant. The primary complaint members of older generations have against the relational approach is that it lacks substance–but you’ll rarely ever hear a Boomer claim that relationship is unimportant. To them, because trust is initially assumed, relationship is inherent. However, our culture has shifted towards distrust and skepticism, and so trust generally requires more time to establish. We’ve confused this process with ministry strategy, and so we build outreach methodologies that demand measurable outcomes from relationships. From the world’s perspective, setting these kinds of expectations on our relationships can potentially even place us on a level with some of those notorious swindlers we all read about…
The bottom line for me is this: Jesus compels his disciples in Mark 12:31, “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” (ESV) In Romans 5:8, Paul describes how Christ provided the perfect model, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (ESV) Paul goes on to distill the nature of this love in Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (ESV) Love is characterized by what we offer, not by what we receive. Sustainable relationship depends on this principle and exists exclusive of any expectation of profit (spiritual or otherwise). A ministry strategy that corrupts this becomes inauthentic and manipulative–just like what we claim of propositionalism.
So, if the propositional approach makes no sense to the younger generations, and if we are to preserve the purity of relationship by resisting our present inclinations to use it as a means to an end, then where does that leave us? I will address this in my very next post, but I’m extremely interested in hearing your thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? What do you believe is the solution?
PS- I thought I’d include this incredible clip of Danny DeVito from the movie The Big Kahuna. He does an amazing job of describing this concept in his character’s own words.
This is an article I wrote for Net Results Magazine, the nation’s longest-running evangelism magazine. It’s a bit long for a blog post, but I think you’ll find great insights into developing church culture. Back it out of the “Christmas Eve services” context and you’ll find principles that apply year-round. Pass the article along to anyone you’d like using the share bar at the bottom! Thanks!
It’s the Most Wonderful Time…Isn’t It? -Adam Bond
Net Results Magazine, copyright 2009
“Who is that, and where did they come from?” he said to himself as he settled into the same seat he’s sat in for the last fifteen years. The couple, dressed like they had just left the hottest night club in town, stumbled past him to the next pew while stuffing their pack of cigarettes into her bright pink and gold handbag that matched her dress. He sat down, sighed and mumbled, “So glad they only come out at Christmas and Easter…”
I don’t think many would admit it, but when Christmas Eve services roll around, the committed church can tend to be a bit xenophobic when it comes to all the new faces. The underlying concern here sadly stands in the way of the vision God has given you to reach your mission field with the Gospel of Jesus.
Each year about this time, we as pastors find ourselves busy with the challenge of planning, preparing and executing our biggest annual gathering/outreach event and making sure we are shepherding our core people at the same time. How do we do it? What are the goals of our Christmas Eve services? Can we really reach people with the Gospel and see ongoing life-change through this once-per-year opportunity? The answers to these questions, I believe, come from a broader view of our calling and vision.
As you continue to plan your Christmas Eve services, I want to challenge you to consider the big picture and offer you a platform from which to develop great ideas to reach new visitors. If we truly desire to see God’s vision manifest through the ministry to which we’re called, then we must look closely at the undercurrent of the vision—church culture.
Culture is where it all begins. A few weeks back I found myself worshipping at a large church in South Africa, a nation that has eleven official languages. Along with 7,500 others representing a beautiful and proportionate cross-section of the country, I engaged in an equally diverse time of praise. I thought, “These guys have it figured out. They know exactly who they are reaching.” We sang hymns, choruses and Zulu praise songs throughout the morning. I noticed with surprise as we shifted genres, the congregation became more unified, not less. The love they had for each other was beautifully evident.
Now, before you get all hot and bothered by the whole “worship style” debate, that’s not where we’re going. This experience paints a great picture of what characterizes healthy church culture. No matter what the season, when a new person steps into your church, they will immediately encounter cues that speak volumes about your church culture—that is, the genuine interest and care your people have for one another.
A PLACE TO BELONG
The church where I began in ministry as an associate pastor uses a three-word descriptor for its mission: Believe, Belong, Become. I’m sure we didn’t invent it, but we liked the sound of it! I remember when we decided to use those words. It was a few years ago. We were at Eric Geiger and Thom Rainer’s Simple Church conference. During the breakout sessions, the other two pastors from our church and I had our own little breakout. We sat in a quiet corner and excitedly developed this ‘simple’ way of communicating the spiritual journey. The words are still in place to this day. But, if I were still on staff at that church, I would petition hard to change them around.
In present culture, we see a significant shift taking place. This is certainly not the easiest thing for the church to acknowledge. Generally speaking, people today are seeking to belong before they believe. This means as people process their first impressions of your church, it will be in the context of personal comfort and familiarity. Many, though not all, will be more likely to sit back and ‘take it in’ rather than zealously come forward, thrusting themselves into the spotlight. Have we been asking people to believe before they belong just because some people still do it? Lost people need to know your church is a place where they are truly accepted, even if they never decide to follow Christ. They will discover if that’s true by watching how your people interact with each other.
The exciting part is that as people discover your church through this process, they have the opportunity to witness the life-changing Gospel first-hand in your people. The really exciting part is that healthy church culture erases the line between evangelism and discipleship. Evangelism becomes as it was in the first church: simply the first step in the discipleship process.
ASSESS YOUR CULTURE
To a first-time visitor, the culture in your church hits them like the rush of heat from an opening oven. So, what does the existing culture of your church feel like? Take some time right now to assess your church’s culture. Write your thoughts down as you consider these questions:
- What are the majority of my people doing before, in between and after each weekend service? Are most hurrying to pick up their kids or moving to and from the parking lot? Or do I see them linger and take time to chat with each other, pray with each other, etc.?
- Currently when a new face arrives, who is greeting them and engaging them in conversation? The greeters/hospitality team? Staff? Lay leaders? Everyone in the church? None of the above?
- Are we intentionally equipping our people to build authentic relationships for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and discipling each other?
No matter where your church lands on the spectrum—from highly relational to superficially social to entirely exclusive—you will benefit from exploring these questions. So, what’s the next step?
On the wall of my orthodontist’s office read a sign: “No great thing is created suddenly.” When he said this, Epictetus apparently hadn’t met our great God, the Creator of the universe. But he definitely hung out with people. The fact is we are not God, and so the shifts we make require time. This is quite true with church culture. And make no mistake—the culture begins with you. If you fail to verbalize and model your commitment to healthy church culture, you can’t expect your people—your sheep—to begin reshaping the culture. What steps can you take now, even with the Christmas season fast-approaching, to shape the culture of your church to create a place where newcomers are compelled to return week after week?
1. Create a reason and an environment for people to be interconnected both on campus and off.
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44 hits the nail on the head. Notice what Luke does not say. He’s not talking about programs or events here. So often in our staff meetings, when we brainstorm ideas for connecting people, we focus on schedules, facilities, seasons and (let’s not deny it) food. None of these things are inherently damaging to church culture, but exclusively focusing on them can lead down the wrong road. When we translate to the word ‘together,’ Luke uses the term epi-autos, meaning ‘superimposed upon each other.’ I’m thinking of the old overhead projectors in elementary school. Remember how the teacher would place a red transparency on top of a blue one to cast purple upon the wall? The light was shining through two superimposed colors to make something new. Despite their differences, when they overlapped, they formed something more beautiful.
Pastors should be relationship brokers. We need to focus on reasons why people should ‘overlap’ more than just ways for people to connect. The beauty of the first church was found in the deep relationship they shared with one another and how they each met another’s needs. You have men and women in your congregation who are great at fixing things. You also have people who need things fixed. You have people who are struggling with addiction and people who used to struggle with addiction. You have people with young children and people who have already done a great job raising their kids. Do you see where I’m going with this? When needs are met through relationships within the church, the culture strengthens and outsiders are naturally drawn in.
2. Develop the entire church as a hospitality team.
Try this crazy experiment: over the next few months, rotate every member through the hospitality team. If you don’t have a hospitality team, then turn your entire church into one. Have them take turns standing at the door greeting people and passing out bulletins. Have them man the coffee station. Have them walk new people with kids to the children’s area. Call upon their commitment as members to serve. The big misconception here is that one needs to be convinced they have the spiritual gift of hospitality to do this. If you ask for a show of hands on that question, you might get a few. But if you ask, “Who here has a passion to see the lost come to know Jesus,” most hands will go up. This should be what motivates people to step up and get involved. Don’t just preach the vision; include people in it.
3. Offer training and small groups focusing on Biblical foundations of relational development.
While you might not get a chance to extensively train everyone, you might be surprised to discover you have some very relationally-minded people in your church. Give them practical tools to train others in the church. Encourage them to meet in homes rather than on campus—this will foster deeper relationships. Here’s an opportunity to start new small groups in your church. These are the most effective groups because they are directly tied to the church’s vision and because they immediately impact the church culture.
Your goal shouldn’t be to get all of these plates spinning before Christmas. If you focus on the long-term development of these simple strategies, then by the time the Christmas season rolls around, you will be in a great position to see real fruit from your efforts.
RESULT: TRUE COMMUNITY
Ultimately you must remember we are not trying to create some sort of utopia here. These expectations are not beyond the reach of everyday people. In Acts 2:44, Luke uses the word koinos for common. This word alludes to something unclean or defiled. That’s right. A true community of Jesus followers is messy. It’s not about having shiny, happy people all over the place; it’s about authenticity and unfiltered love. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Effective evangelism is rooted in the culture of the church body—as your people love, they reveal the true Gospel, creating awesome opportunities to lead others to Jesus.
“Hmmm… I haven’t met them yet,” he said to himself as he settled into the same seat he’s sat in for the last fifteen years. The couple, dressed like they had just left the hottest night club in town, stumbled past him to the next pew while stuffing their pack of cigarettes into her bright pink and gold handbag that matched her dress. He sat down and smiled. “I can’t wait to get to know them.”