BY STEVE DUNN
Years ago at a National Youth Workers Convention I heard Tony Campolo make this statement: “The church has a sign, ‘Come One, Come All’; but Jesus put up another sign ‘Go Ye!” That thought embedded itself deeply into soul and I believe helped ignite the passion to help churches reach their unchurched neighbors with the Good News of the Kingdom.
But very few churches go. When they finally stop being inward focused, they actually start thinking about connecting with the unchurched by inviting them to something that the church is doing. But increasingly that attractional model is losing its effectiveness. People don’t come to churches. That’s unsafe territory for many people with absolutely no Christian roots.
Ironically, Jesus’ model was incarnational. “Take me into the neighborhood. Meet the unchurched where they live.” Go Ye!
But again, very few churches go.
I think that there are at least six reasons.
For most churches, the number one reason for not going is an inward focus. This is the belief (often unspoken) that the church exists to care for its members, the people who are already part of the church—for the already persuaded instead of the yet-to-be convinced.
Churches don’t go because we believe ministry is only done in the church facility, and we prefer it that way.
Churches don’t go because we are too busy. Our schedules are crowded with programs and meetings and classes almost entirely aimed at serving the people within the church. There is no time left over for being outside the walls of the church where the non-Christians live and even less time for buiding redemptive relationships with non-Christians.
Churches don’t go because we are fearful. Some are fearful of being contaminated by the world if we spend time out in the world. Others are fearful that we will be attacked and our faith ridiculed. Still others are afraid we will be called to accountability for the imperfection of the church.
Churches don’t go because it costs money. We are always looking for ways to hold on to what we have instead of seeing the resources that we have as gifts from God intended to do the work of God.
Churches don’t go because we don’t believe people are truly lost—or because we don’t care. It is the dirty little secret of a church that has actually become too worldly minded, that has lost its first love. Too many churches are content with the assurance that we have been saved, instead of having hearts broken for those who go to eternity without Jesus Christ.
These observations can be summed up with this. Churches don’t go because we have forgotten that we are disciples of Christ. Disciples go.
Portions excerpted from THE BRIDGEBUILDERS PRINCIPLE (C) 2015 by Stephen L. Dunn. USED BY PERMISSION
© 2015 by Stephen L Dunn
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