You’ve heard these before:
Garbage in, garbage out.
You become like those you hang out with.
Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
We all know these phrases because we have actually experienced them in our own lives: What happens on the inside affects what is experienced on the outside.
"...we can’t go out and make disciples of all nations if we are not already effective at making disciples within our church..."
But what does this mean for churches? The internal health of a church community will have a direct impact on our outreach.
And while your staff may understand the role every ministry has in creating the best impression for first-time visitors and drawing people to the community, most people think that outreach is the most important factor in church growth and the primary responsibility of the outreach pastor.
And don’t get us wrong – outreach is a critical "...if we count on outreach alone for church growth, what we’re doing is focusing everything on getting people in the doors without ever thinking about how we’re going to keep them in our community for the long run..." part of getting people to visit your church. But it’s only a part of everything that’s needed to accelerate church growth. When we count on outreach alone for church growth, what we’re essentially doing is focusing everything on getting people in the doors without ever thinking about how we’re going to keep them in our community for the long run.
Think of it like this: Although your church may be attracting 100 new visitors a week, if your church’s retention coincides with the national average of 10 percent, that means you’re really only growing by a little over 500 people each year.
But what if your church could reach every household in your community with the Gospel? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
But it may be more of a possibility than you think.
You may automatically assume that could only happen using TV – but church leaders can make an exponential impact in their church’s outreach effectiveness by creating a strategy for utilizing missional communities.
Because while we can’t go out and make disciples of all nations if we are not already effective at making disciples within our church, consider taking a hard look at the culture and processes that support discipleship and community in your church.
Here are five ideas for strategically and effectively reaching your community:
Hot dogs are missional.
Yes, you read that right. Reaching unchurched people in your community doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as grilling hot dogs in your backyard and inviting the neighbors. Too often, churches look to create a large-scale event or a one-day-a-year extravaganza to reach their communities. While these aren’t bad ideas, reaching every house in your city could be as simple as doing something small.
Reach every house by going back to the first century.
In other words, keep it simple. Your outreach strategy can resemble the very same things the early church was doing as recorded in Acts. Humanity hasn’t changed; people still value authenticity and community.
Shepherd every sheep.
Simply put, it all comes down to valuing every person who comes through our doors. It’s easy to emphasize the need to value your givers, but to really reach – and impact – every household, church leaders should adopt a mindset that every person is valuable. And really, it would be completely disingenuous for people to come to your campus and get the sense that you don’t value them.
What you know helps you grow.
The way that church leaders value all people is to show that they care and that everyone is valuable to their church. And it starts with recording what you know about each person and ends with an army of fully engaged members ready to reach their community. It requires a well-built assimilation engine and . And as your church starts to grow, it takes consistently evaluating and fine-tuning your processes.
Don’t be afraid to risk your reputation for the Gospel.
The thing that missional communities teach us is that God seems to put us into situations where we have the opportunity to be naturally supernatural in our outlook. How do you respond when a neighbor loses a job, a friend is sick, or you sense God is prompting you to reach out to a nonbeliever?
"...too often, churches look to create a large-scale event or a one-day-a-year extravaganza to reach their communities..."
When we are committed to reaching every house in our community with the Gospel, it forces us to be reliant upon Him to intervene when we get into situations we don’t know how to handle.
Jesus never promised that fulfilling the Great Commission would be easy. But if you want to be a church that is committed to reaching every household with the Gospel like never before, start by improving the internal community of your members.
From there, you will begin to see the overflow of what God is doing in the lives of people by the way they’re serving and reaching their communities.