As we worked through specific teaching on discipleship this summer, I asked this question to the people of our church: "What would our church look like if...?"
Here's a bit of the background to that question. When I became the pastor of this church over 11 years ago, it had been in significant decline for many years. In fact, the consensus of the leaders was that it would close within five years if something didn't change. Since that time, God has been leading us into a more missional mindset and the church has grown significantly. As I stated in a previous blog, we are adding another service to our schedule to try to facilitate additional growth.
To be honest, a great deal of our growth has been transfer growth - people who have come to us because the church they were in was not effectively ministering to the community. Transfer growth has helped us by bringing us a number of new leaders and resources. As a result, we've done more than we thought we could do several years ago.
However, transfer growth doesn't really increase the Kingdom of God! All it does is "shuffle the deck." So I've been asking our people to think about their family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and those they see as they drive down the street. What would our church look like if we really reached out to those who need Jesus the most? And, what would our church look like if we reached out to those who are really different from us? What if we made ourselves really uncomfortable and reached those who are in poverty, or who have children with disabilities? What if?
Since that time, God has been changing the hearts of some of our people. There is a growing passion to connect with those who have the greatest needs. It's challenging. But it's so rewarding as we are beginning to see some previously unreached people coming through our doors!
So I ask you, what would your church look like if..." You can fill in the rest. But please, fill it in!