For many people in your community, Easter is the only day of the year they’ll show up at church. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to those who don’t think about church the other 364 days of the year.
You’ll want to reach out to your visitors and thank them for coming. Depending upon the size and culture of your church, you may make a personal visit, call them or write them a letter (whether through the mail or via e-mail)—or very possibly do all three.
In fact, if you visit them or call them, sending them a follow-up letter is an appropriate next step. It’ll allow you to give them some more details about your church and guard against the possibility that you’ll forget something important.
As I have had the opportunity to speak to groups of pastors over these past few years, I have identified five different traps I believe churches often fall into—traps that prevent our churches from realizing their full potential to change the world for Christ.
Most churches will find they have slid into one or two of these traps to one degree or another. Some will have avoided them all. Either way, just being aware of a trap helps keep one from falling prey to it in the first place.
Below are the five traps to consider. Do one or more characterize you or your church?
I’m not an evangelist or a pastor. I’m not even a Bible teacher or a youth minister. I’m a filmmaker, attempting to do the near-impossible for my films. I attempt to visibly film an invisible God.
Having traveled the world to make my first three feature films, Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights, it’s probably safe to say that the last six years have given me a new perspective and quite an education on what God is doing around the world, as well as which evangelism methods are working, and which ones are seemingly slogging through quicksand.
The politically correct statement here would be to say that as long as those trying to evangelize are preaching the basics of the gospel, then we should just be happy, no matter their methods. But I can’t help but wonder if one form of evangelism is more effective than another.
Tim Stevens shared a great post recently about “The New Normal Project” at Granger Community Church. It was a post written about what used to be known as stewardship campaigns. You should check out the full article.
This is the quote that grabbed my attention:
“We had very few extra events (i.e. banquets, home meetings) and focused everything we could around the weekend services. People are very busy with very good things—and most of them can only give us one shot a week. That doesn’t mean they are unspiritual or don’t love Jesus or the church. It just means they are living their lives, investing in their families and contributing to society.”
Tim was writing about their specific project, but I think we as church leaders need to be challenged by Granger’s learning. Generally, churches are very event-driven. We are a one-trick pony.
My wife, Joyce, and I planted our local church 29 years ago, Jan. 29, 1984, in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y. We were not sent out with any money and had only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter, and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
1. Be sent from your local church. Unfortunately, many send themselves and just “went” instead of being “sent.” The Bible teaches us that we should not preach unless we are “sent” (see Romans 10:15).
What do you do when your church no longer looks like the community that surrounds it?
Focus on what your church does well. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If your church is primarily made up of elderly folks, decide to become the most effective ministry to senior citizens in your community that you can possibly be.
Don’t try to be a church for young families. Strengthen what you’re already doing and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Keep doing what you’ve been doing—just do it better. Chances are that there’s an unchurched pocket of people in your community that only your church can reach. Find those people—and reach them.