Seek the best for your community and see your influence grow
Imagine a church of 850 in attendance winning nearly 2,000 people to the Lord in the space of just 12 months. In addition, imagine that church being featured in Charisma magazine as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Imagine this church had been stuck at a plateau for over three years. Sound unimaginable? That’s exactly what happened to my church in 2009-2010.
When our church was at a plateau, I become weary in attempting to motivate my congregation to regularly evangelize. Some responded, but I didn’t get the results I was looking for. I couldn’t understand why most wouldn’t or just didn’t. I needed a unique strategy for our house.
First, I began to focus on increasing their love quotient. I believe evangelism flows best out of a heart overflowing with love for the Lord. So, I talked more about God’s attributes and personality—attempting to cause their hearts to soar. I motivated the church to focus on intense prayer, asking the Lord to mark each heart with His presence.
Why Jesus wasn’t big on asking unbelievers to follow Him to church
Growing up, I was not too interested in church or religion. When I became a teenager, I was invited a few times by Christian classmates to attend their church youth group activities and Bible studies. I was pretty good at saying no. I was not ready to dive into their world. However, I couldn’t keep them from diving into mine.
I am forever grateful that Ron Musselman, the First Presbyterian youth pastor, did not just invite me into his church world; he jumped into my not-so-churchy world. Ron engaged my culture and my community because I was not interested in engaging his.
Jesus gave the greatest demonstration of engaging culture and community when He left the streets of gold in heaven to walk the dirt roads of the Roman Empire. Showing up was just the beginning. While here, He was the expert at engaging all types of cultures and communities that were disenfranchised by the religious elite.
How we can remember ‘the forgotten’ among us, even as our churches grow
But He needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). In Jesus’ time, Samaria represented a land of cultural difference and prejudice for many Jews—a land they’d rather go around. I believe our cities and towns too have “a land we’d rather go around.” Jesus’ conviction was clear: He had to go through Samaria. And I believe that as His body, so must we.
For years I felt I had nothing to offer people unlike me. Because of my upper-middle-class upbringing and the fact that I pastored a church full of people who looked like me, I was led to believe that I was incapable of being used by God to make an impact in a different cultural context in our city.