In many cases, if not most, becoming a truly outward-focused, kingdom-focused church involves a culture shift. The reality is that the much of what keeps a church from reaching out to its community is its desire not to change something that it has made it comfortable for generations. A certain time schedule, a worship style, a favorite program, a certain person holding a key position for a long time, a favorite Bible version, traditions like Rally Days and fall revivals occupy much of the church’s time, energy, and resources.
People often believe that tweaking something will make it attractive to new people without upsetting the people you already have. Even the attitude that we meet our needs first before we invest in those on the outside carries the seeds of failure because it undermines the humble servanthood that Jesus modeled and also declared was the way to be fruitful as His disciples.
How do we overcome the inertia that is created in our churches that the restricts the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us? Let me suggest the first three steps:
1. Prayer: Begin praying for your community–its people, its needs, its problems. Begin to make this request of God: “God, break my heart for the things that break your heart..”
2. Revisit the core values that shape Kingdom-focused churches: Have your pastor share ten messages (perhaps in five week segments) in Sunday morning worship about the ten core values, following it up with a discussion class or Bible study that same week where the questions are asked: (a) Why is this value so important? (2) Does our church truly reflect or share this value? (3) What would it take for this value to be true about our church?
3. Ask key people in your community who do not attend your church what the community thinks about your church.
Does your church care enough about its community and their unchurched neighbors to ask these questions?