Published April 12, 2007
At a recent On Mission Celebration, we were confronted with a shocking statistic: Sixty percent of the people in our area claim no religious affiliation. Couple that with the fact that ninety percent of our communities are effectively unchurched, and we can see that we are failing miserably.
We do well at trading members and having spurts of conversions, but for the most part we are not doing the one thing that Jesus commanded us to do – go into our world and make disciples.
We do well at going into debt to build more buildings to meet the maintenance needs of our present congregations. What would be the result, though, if those monies were poured into outreach?
Jesus said the world would recognize that we belong to Him by our demonstrated love. What if, instead of creating loan payments, we assisted our members and neighbors who cannot pay their mortgage or utilities? What if, instead of building family life centers to feed ourselves, we used that money to feed hungry families?
What if, instead of embracing more debt for more buildings, we demonstrated faithful stewardship to our community by maximizing the use of our present facilities and retire the debt we already have? If we can have one worship service, we can have five. If we can have one Sunday School, we can have five. We just need to get the eighty percent who are being served to join the twenty percent who are serving.
We assume the answer to our problem is new church starts. Why do we not focus our time and money on reviving the churches that are already in our communities? Small, struggling churches without a pastor could unite with an existing church in their area, resulting in more money spent on ministry instead of utilities. In addition, our healthy, growing churches could adopt stagnant churches and provide the people and resources to reenergize them and awaken their vision for reaching the lost with the gospel.
Would that not demonstrate the love of Christ to a world that would rather embrace a Hollywood documentary claiming to have discovered His bones than to accept by faith our message of His death, burial, and resurrection? Is it not worth abandoning our traditions and the way we have always done things to step outside our comfort zones to fulfill the Great Commission?
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