In our work with hundreds of churches over the past several years, we have come to conclude that there are five questions every congregation must ask if they will see the effectiveness of their church increase. These five questions can rescue the declining church and propel the strong church to greater heights. These five questions motivate the best of congregational actions and are virtually guaranteed to increase a congregation’s ability to achieve the Great Commission. Build good answers to these five questions, and it won’t be long before you’re reaching the full potential of your congregation.
Now, that I’ve hopefully whet your appetite by making promises that could seem unrealistic in your particular setting, let me show you the proof and the truth of what I’m promising. These five questions, and our determination to answer them, form the basis of the assignment we’ve been given. As you’ll see, each is built on the apostolic assignment and was proven effective long before the ink on New Testament pages was dry. In other words, this isn’t our stuff–it’s the Bible’s stuff!
So here we go…
QUESTION 1: How do we engage new people?
Now, that doesn’t exactly sound like biblical phrasing, but it’s the question Jesus frequently used to challenge His disciples–LIFT UP YOUR EYES!
The idea in this question is, how do we make contact with people outside of our current circle? How do we interact with folks who don’t currently attend, have never attended, and don’t really plan on attending our local church? Are they a “them” to us or do we see them as potentially a part of the “us.”
Virtually every congregation we have surveyed over the past five years will tell us that among the five functions of the Church (Fellowship, Discipleship, Service, Evangelism, Worship), their least effectiveness is found in evangelism. Fellowship and Worship are usually their perceived strengths, but reaching others with the Gospel isn’t something their congregation members prove to accomplish effectively. Sure, some will say that if they bring them in, Pastor has proved effective at bringing them to the altar, but given that there might be a hundred of us in the room each week and only one or two outsiders, well, few if any of us are having success at reaching others. On average (in Assembly of God churches) it takes four or five of us to lead one person to Jesus EACH YEAR! I can’t think of any other environment where that would seem like a high rate of effectiveness.
One of the likely causes for our struggle is that of the five functions listed above, this is the one we expect people to accomplish on their own. We worship together, fellowship together, provide discipleship settings to engage together, and serve together. But when it comes to evangelism (a subject pastor preaches on more than the others), we anticipate them doing this AFTER they leave us. “Go get ’em,” is the essence of our strategy in most places.
Could evangelism become a team sport like the others? Is there a way to do this together other than the two or three that have proven willing to go knock on doors? In our next blog, we will explore some team efforts that are proving effective in various places and, hopefully, we’ll stir some ideas to help you offer new answers to this question.
For now, make a list of the ways in which your congregation currently answers this first of our five questions. Frankly, until we find good answers to this question, the remaining four are only marginally important.