“Making Disciples” is the church’s assignment given directly from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. It should always be on our minds and hearts as we lead our churches forward for the glory of Christ. Aubrey Malphurs is a prolific writer and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Recently I was in a conference he led based on his book, Strategic Disciple Making. Dr. Malphurs shared ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make a difference in their community and make disciples. We are going to look at these more closely in the next several blogs. Here’s his list again:
- Lack of vision;
- Lack of outreach and passion;
- Congregations not willing to change;
- Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
- Lack of prayer;
- Lack of unity;
- Congregation too comfortable;
- Little ownership of mission/purpose;
- Resistant power structures;
- Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.
Lack of outreach and passion…Is your church inwardly focused or outwardly focused? Do you have any guests attending worship or other church events? The flow of guests is critical in growing a church because without guests (new people) churches will plateau and die. Do you focus on reaching unchurched people?
One way of knowing if your church is inward or outward focused is to check your budget. Do you budget resources for ministry outside the four walls or is everything spent just for those on the inside?
Passion and outreach go together. Passion fuels outreach. Churches that take the great commission seriously and are passionate about making disciples are always thinking and planning on how they can reach people in new ways. Engaging your community is key for churches to connect with people and meet needs. Some churches conduct servant days where they take a day or afternoon and do service projects (random acts of kindness) all over their city. This accomplishes two things; it blesses and grows your people as they go beyond the walls and meet other people, and it moves your church to be outward focused. Sometimes we forget what the “fields” look like. Jesus said in John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” NIV
Many churches are refusing to open their eyes. They are myopic and do not look past their noses.
Tom Rainer reports this stat…”In 1950, it took 20 Southern Baptists to reach one person for Christ over a year’s time. Today, it takes 47 of us to reach just one. We are reaching no more people today as 16 million Southern Baptists than we did as 6 million Southern Baptists years ago!”
Neil Cole writes this in his book, Cultivating a Life for God…
- If we can’t see them, we won’t love them.
- If we can’t love them, we won’t pray for them.
- If we can’t pray for them, we won’t win them.
- If we can’t win them, we won’t send them.
Creative outreach ideas happen because someone became passionate about sharing Jesus with people. Get a group together and brainstorm how your church can meet needs in your community for the glory of Christ.
Passion without outreach is bogus and outreach without passion will quickly die, but passion and outreach together moves churches out into the fields and reaches people for Jesus.