“And while you’re at it, call the other deacons and ask them how your church can help them build houses, feed the poor and minister to seniors. Don't force people to do ministry your way. Help them with the ministry they're already passionate about.”
Go Where They Are
Unfortunately, this pastor never got what I was trying to say. For him, the only ministry that counted was what happened inside the walls of the church.
I wish this was an isolated incident. But we all know it’s not. There are far too many pastors and churches that don’t consider ministry valid unless it happens within the walls of their church building.
But Jesus never called us to bring people into a church building. He told us to go to them. On the streets, in the marketplaces and at backyard BBQs.
If we’re going to reach the next generation, we’ll need to get much better at doing ministry from the church, not just in the church.
Keep your eyes and ears open to what’s already happening in your community through the members of your church. Then step up to help.
For generations, local churches were the center of many communities. They were places of hope and welcome. They aren’t seen that way anymore.
We’ve lost people’s trust. Through scandal after scandal and one political fight after another, we’ve so diluted the pure, simple gospel message that more and more people no longer have the church on their list of possible places to find help, healing, or answers to their questions.
In addition to keeping our doors open, we need to look for places where their doors are open so we can meet them on their turf. Start new relationships and nurture friendships where they are, instead of insisting they do it our way.
We need to earn their trust again. But it’s not about getting them to trust an institution. Quite frankly, I don’t care if people who have been burned by the institutional church ever trust it again. They need to know they can trust Jesus. And his followers.
For a lot of people, that will only happen outside the church’s physical and institutional walls, not inside them.
That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It may force us to rediscover our true mission and purpose again.
After all, outside the walls is where Jesus did his best work. Why should his followers be any different?
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