Profiling and Discipleship

In my last blog we discussed the research related to reaching young adults and their receptivity to our invitations and ministries.  There have been numerous studies detailing who are more likely to visit our churches or join based on all kinds of empirical data.  New books come out each week with lots of this type of information.  I majored in sociology in college so that kind of raw data is interesting to me personally.

As we think about “Saddleback Sam” or whatever name we may designate these demographic projected persons that we are aiming to reach: we must be very, very, careful.

Yes, the data is helpful and useful in our marketing and even in our ministry design, but be careful that you don’t start “profiling” who you are going to reach for Christ!

Why?  Because the Great Commission has absolutely no limits on who we should be reaching, ministering, and sharing the Gospel with.  It contains no mention of age, yearly incomes, educational attainments, race, religious or political preferences, what kind of car we drive, our toothpaste selection, etc.

When I read Matthew 28:16-20 I am left with the impression, conviction if you will, that it is everyone, everywhere at anytime that we should be aiming at!  If we aim wider will we not reach more? Are we limiting the Holy Spirit by drawing our circles too small?

If we are not careful we will lose this biblical dynamic and do a great injustice to the church and to the Great Commission.   The two words, “make disciples,” cover everyone and everyone should have multiple opportunities to hear the Gospel, become a disciple, and be a part of a dynamic New Testament Church.


  1. Thanks Roberts…great comments. The bottom line is we must use all available data possible to impact our outreach efforts and depend totally on the Holy Spirit as we share with all people the Gospel.

  2. Good post, Mike. I agree with you entirely that the Gospel is for everyone and that we should never let our outreach efforts cause someone to feel “de-selected.” At the same time, however, I think the kind of data you describe is very useful in helping a church understand its community and its own strengths. Targeting everyone can mean reaching no one if we aren’t careful.

    I think this also speaks of God’s wisdom in allowing us to worship Him in such a wide diversity of ways. Because we are all different, we have a need for many different kinds of churches — all preaching the same Gospel but with different strengths, methods and styles.

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