Innovative Ministry
Pastor, Don't Neglect Your Current Members To Reach New Ones
The great churches of tomorrow will be built on the foundations that were established yesterday and affirmed today. 

Every church needs to be more missional. More outward-reaching. More evangelistic. More outside-the-walls.

One of the best indicators of whether-or-not a church is healthy is how much they're reaching people who aren't already in the congregation. The more outward-looking, the more likely it is to be healthy. The more insular, the less healthy.

But, while outreach is a good indicator of health, it can't stand alone.

In addition to reaching new people, a healthy church also pays attention to nurturing, discipling and challenging its current members into a deeper walk with Jesus. Doing one at the expense of the other creates imbalance and ill-health.

Not to mention, it's much harder to bring new people into the church than it is to keep the people you already have. We must do both.

It's much harder to bring new people into the church than it is to keep the people you already have. We must do both.

Businesses know this. While an infusion of new customers is vital, it's far cheaper to keep current customers and employees than it is to find new customers or train new employees.

Regular customers and long-term employees are the backbone of any enterprise.

Engage Members In The Mission

I'm not a fan of using business metaphors for churches. Congregation members are neither customers or employees (unless they're on the church staff, of course). But in this case, the analogy holds.

While reaching new people with the message of the gospel is an essential element of a healthy church, it can't be done at the expense of ignoring or belittling current members. In fact, if it's done right, a healthy church fully engages the gifts, talents and ideas of its current members to reach new people.

Certainly, there are churches so toxic that this can't be done. I've seen situations where the only option is a hard restart. Tear it down and rebuild from scratch. But that's not needed in nearly as many situations as we're often led to believe.

In most existing churches, the current members can and should be intimately involved in the process of outreach and renewal.

Close The Old Back Door, Too

The western church is losing market share (sorry for using yet another business expression). Not only are people not coming into the church as quickly as they used to, they're leaving at a faster pace than ever before. Often, permanently.

In order to reverse this trend, churches are working harder than ever to figure out how to reach new people. But too many churches are alienating current members more quickly than they're bringing new people in.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

August 04, 2017 at 2:24 AM

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