This is a follow up post to “Why Should They Come?”. You can read it here.
How do we reach the ones who won’t come?
In the “Why Should They Come?” post, I asked the question, “How do we reach the ones who are not going to come to our gatherings?” I posed a few other questions, two that I want to answer briefly, and then I want to talk about an alternative way to approach mission to non-church people around us.
1) “Since many will not come to our gatherings, do we change what we do when we gather?”
No. As I said before, the things we do when we gather as a corporate body are beneficial, encouraging, challenging, and play a role in making disciples, which is our primary mission. I look forward to them. The things we do exalt Jesus, lead us deeper into communion with him and with other believers, and are all founded on Scripture.
Also, as I mentioned before, there are still many in our particular context who, at the Spirit’s prompting, will come if invited in the right way or by the right person. When those people do come, we don’t want them to experience the same things they see at restaurants, concerts, or civil gatherings. We want them to see why life is different. We want them to experience things that are counter-cultural because they are distinctly centered around Jesus.
While there are plenty of ways to stylize and structure gatherings, I don’t think catering our activities when we gather only to try to appeal to those farthest away is a good idea.
2) “Should we stop gathering?”
Of course not. For many of the same reasons above, I believe that gathering is both a God-honoring thing and a disciple-making thing. While our gatherings may not appeal to some, they encourage, convict, and strengthen those who believe the gospel, and there are some who are curious enough to show up and see what’s really going on.
We should gather, and when we do, we should do it well. We should make it a place that is welcoming to outsiders. We should sing powerful songs with good music. The speaking and teaching should be well thought out and articulate. Our prayers should be meaningful and not flippant or stale. How we define these things, and the budget we deem appropriate to invest into them, will vary, of course. But we should gather, and gather purposefully.
Then what do we do?
Because of the rapidly changing cultural landscape, and the increasing numbers of those who are unlikely to come to our gatherings, there are many who are reconsidering what church and mission should look like, through both biblical and cultural lenses. The answers to these questions are varied, but one thing that continues to emerge over and over is that there is a place for another model.
Where we have largely thought like this:
We need to also (and increasingly) think like this:
We need to do at least two things very intentionally and very well:
1) Cultivate relationships with those outside the church. Many will respond to an invitation, or to the gospel message itself, when presented by a friend who has earned their trust by caring, befriending, and loving them without condition. They will have seen the difference the gospel makes. So we can start with hospitality.
2) Plant tangible expressions of the church where people are rather than asking them to come to us. Be the church wherever life takes you, and embody the truth of the gospel as you go. Invite neighbors, co-workers, and people you meet into your home. Listen to them, ask questions, and become friends. Then invite them into a community of people that genuinely love the gospel, each other, and them. Our expression of this at Remedy is Missional Communities.
Spiritual Family on Mission
Our simple definition of a Missional Community is a spiritual family on mission together. Learn to love each other and care for each other like family. Work hard for each other’s growth in loving and obeying Jesus, and fight for each other’s joy. Learn to move in packs. Celebrate together. Mourn together. Serve each other and the world, together.
As you live out the implications of the gospel together, look for opportunities to serve and invite those outside to experience what life in the family is like. Give them a taste of the Kingdom of God before they’re ever ready to enter it themselves. Let them experience things they may never come to one of our gatherings to see.
Go and be the presence of Jesus among people who are unlikely to come us.