You Can Make an Impact!

But are you focusing on the right factors to reach those around you?

We all know culture isn’t as tied into church as it once was. According to Barna research, from 1991 to 2004 the adult population in the United States grew by 15 percent, whereas the unchurched adult population grew by a shocking 92 percent. Many pastors I talk to are searching for help in reaching the unchurched and the de-churched.

First, let me applaud your efforts. I know God is grateful for the labor we’ve put forth to reach people. I also know that He alone is aware of the true impact of our ministry.

In Acts 8 we read how Philip preached to great crowds in Samaria and saw many converted. However, it’s noteworthy to me that, following Philip’s massive meetings, God instructed him to head south toward Gaza. On the way he met one man: a high-ranking Ethiopian governmental official who was reading from the book of Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah. Philip brought an understanding of Jesus to this seeker, and after answering his questions joyously baptized him. I’m challenged by the reality that Philip affected a city while preaching to Samaria’s crowds, whereas he potentially affected an entire nation by ministering to one man.

I am convinced that the early disciples didn’t understand the incredible impact their lives would have when they began. In John 20, we find these men huddled behind locked doors and afraid. Jesus obviously considered it necessary in the midst of their overwhelming fears to change their focus. He appeared to them and said: “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (v. 21). He knew the importance of settling their fears and of establishing strong faith in their hearts so they could be effective. In fact, Acts 1 says He spent 40 days convincing them that they could and must reach the people in their region.

We had a similar experience in our church in 1989. During a frustrating and unfruitful beginning in ministry, our leaders felt challenged to examine what we really believed about the future. We learned that what we allow our spirits to come into agreement with is very important.

We recognized factors that had convinced us we were capable of limited effectiveness: (1) Our demographics: Only 100,000 people lived within a 30-minute drive of our church; (2) Our facilities: We had a subpar facility in a trying location and our bathrooms needed help; (3) My preaching: I was young and inexperienced.

After identifying our fears, these devoted believers and I spent time together in prayer and planning. We began to allow the Holy Spirit to set our focus on new factors we believed could impact many lives in our community. They included:

  • The commitment of our members. God promised us that the fruit of righteous living would cause many souls to come to Christ (see Prov. 11:30).
  • The love of our members. God promised us that if our church spoke the truth in love, we would grow (see Eph. 4:15).
  • God’s truth. God promised us that His truth would bring increased freedom to all who continued in it (see John 8:31-32).

    As we began to focus on these, we were amazed at how strong our faith became and the number of lives we could affect for Christ. It’s also scary now to think of how much fruitfulness could have been lost because of the wrong focus.

    Regardless of our challenges, pastors, let’s concentrate on keeping our focus right. People in today’s American culture need us more now than ever!

    Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria, Texas, and founder of Significant Church Network (

  • Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

    Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

    Your Turn

    Comment Guidelines
    • Lyndon Johnson

      63-Year-Old Law Still 'Threatens' Churches, Pastors

      Read why this law is so dangerous to the kingdom culture.

    • Explorers require significant input.

      How to Receive Clarity When Torn Between Choices

      Decision making is risky without guidance from the Holy Spirit.

    • Churches with less than 100 members possess a sense of potential that is alluring.

      The Great Value of Churches With Under 100 Members

      God can and does use small churches in significant ways to advance His Kingdom.

    • A dark cloud hangs over the 61 "deplorables" in Congress.

      Inauguration Day and the True Deplorables in Congress

      "To opt out of participation in this festival of the democratic process is to say publicly that ...

    • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

      Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

      Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

    • A new path is opening now.

      Prophecy: The Lord Is Opening Doors for Kingdom-Minded Businesses

      Find out how to activate this prophetic word of increase in your company.

    • The future of your ministry could depend on how you answer these questions.

      5 Questions You Will Answer in 2017

      The future of your life, ministry and church will be determined by the way you address these.

    • Local congregations are called to become Christ-like in their methodology, mission and essence.

      10 Traits of the Jesus-Driven Church

      If we attempt to walk in these, we will leave a powerful imprint on the world around us.

    • Do you have the proper training to be a soldier in God's army?

      The Training You Need as a Soldier in God's Army

      We are in already in a war. Let us enter the fight as fully trained soldiers with the full armor ...

    Use Desktop Layout
    Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders