If you want your church to be effective in outreach, you must create a loving, compassionate culture. If your church services are stiff and somewhat professional, people won’t feel comfortable being there. They may feel like they have to measure up to a certain standard in order to be a part of the body of Christ. It just doesn’t work well.
But when people walk in the church building and immediately feel loved and accepted and important, they sense God is going to do something in their lives. It’s a culture of compassion. It’s the set-up for everything we do at our church because it’s a culture that will reach the lost and broken.
Distractions are everywhere. In every church there will always be issues. But as the shepherd of the church, we must stay continually in the presence of the Lord to find out what He’s saying to us and to our members.
If I’m not careful, in the midst of all the distractions, I can get political in my head. I can get all kinds of different attitudes that take me off mission. I think it’s extremely important for us to evaluate our words and what our hearts are meditating on. We need to keep the main thing the main thing in our churches and in our personal lives.
Jesus said the harvest is white. It’s white right now! It’s critical to the heart of God to bring in the lost. I think of it like I’m bumping my way through life and Sovereign God is bumping me into people who need Him, giving me the opportunity to pray and touch people. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a restaurant or on the sidewalk; it’s just an impromptu meeting. Next thing you know, you’ve unleashed the presence of God in that person’s life and your words start to make an impression.
Somebody told me a while ago, “You know, Pastor, you’re really going to impact the inner city. You’re going to affect Dayton, Ohio.” And I said, “I hope that’s true!” That’s our focus, but really I think the inner city is going to change our church in that reaching out and getting in touch with people’s needs reminds us what’s important and what matters. Eternity matters. It needs to take up 90% of our attention, where we spend money, and how we handle opportunities. We need to move and breathe and speak and do with eternity in mind.
During COVID-19, I told our folks, “I know it’s a time that you’re being told to quarantine, but there’s never been a better time for us to reach the hearts of people because they know what their needs are. If we show up and help them, they’ll give us license to share the Reason for the hope that lies within us: Jesus.
We fed thousands and thousands of meals as we were out and about during COVID. We’d have people drop off things at the church and other people put things in their cars. We found out where the needs were and started a front-door grocery ministry. The impact this simple act of love had on people’s lives was jaw-dropping and heart-wrenching. You’d see the real life circumstances of people as they’d look through their screen doors at you. You never saw them before, and suddenly they’re in tears because they see the compassion of God in you. It was just an amazing time for us as a body!
Now, it’s such a joy for me to be out in the church foyer greeting people. I’ll have somebody who has no idea what church culture is come talk to me and use the kind of language that would make some people shutter. But I’m thinking, “This is perfect! I reached the right person! This is exactly who I’ve been looking for!” The church shouldn’t be a museum for the saints; it should be a hospital for the hurting. Honestly, there’s nobody perfect in church anyway, and God has always used the unqualified to do the impossible. These new visitors or your members sometimes challenge my own boundaries, and I think that’s the number one thing I need because it’s impossible to grow beyond where we are if we don’t do anything new.
Pastor, we need to challenge our boundaries. We need to stop saying things like, “Well, I don’t consider my personality to be evangelistic…” Okay. Then let me ask you a question: All the apostles, did all of them have the same personality? Peter, James, John – all of them?! No, they had magnificently different personalities, but the bottom line was they were all called to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and as they did, they saw miracles take place.
I think the most exciting days of the church are when we were step out of what we’ve defined as normal to do something that absolutely fulfills the Great Commission. The hungriest people in our church are those who have challenged boundaries in their lives and found themselves on fire for God. Compromise isn’t a part of their life any more. They’re focused on being effective.
If you want your church to be effective in outreach — if you personally want to be effective — don’t ignore the needs when you can do something to help. You remember that Jesus said, “When I was hungry, you fed Me; when I was thirsty, you gave Me a drink; and when I was in prison, you visited Me.” We must obey the mandate of the King, obey His voice and simply reach out and touch our neighbors, our community, in a way that causes them to see Him.
I want our church to be remembered as a congregation of believers who put the Word of God into action, who cared about what God cares about, and that’s souls. Hell is forever, and those who don’t know Jesus are missing so much. They don’t have to miss it if you and I will just share it with them in a way they can receive.