"How Are You Going To Grow Your Church?"
People ask me all the time, “How are you going to grow your new church?” They’re curious how a new church gets people to show up. They often wonder if we’re going to do special programs to attract people, or if we’ll buy up a bunch of billboards ads, or if we’ll send out mass mailers to every home in our community, or if we’ll go old-school and knock on doors. However, though some of those ideas have their place (and we may implement one or two of them along the way) that’s not going to be our strategy. I personally like Jesus’ strategy a whole lot, and we catch a glimpse here in Mark chapter two:
He [Jesus] went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Here’s Jesus’ strategy for growing a church.
View mission as a way of life, not a weekend project or a mission trip.
Jesus was a missionary. Mission was his life, not just an annual trip overseas. We see him coming into human history as a missionary. He’s coming from the culture of heaven to the culture of earth, from the presence of angels to the presence of sinners. And in so doing, Jesus isn’t legitimizing sin. He’s not encouraging sin. He himself isn’t sinning, but he’s loving sinners and building relationships with those who are far from him in order to draw them near, change their life, and forgive their sins.
In the Gospel of John, over twenty times Jesus says “The Father has sent me… The Father has sent me… The Father has sent me…”
For Jesus, every day, every trip, every city, every encounter was mission. Mission was the normal rhythm of Jesus’ life, not a special event he practiced on occasion. Most of us love that Jesus was a missionary. Few of us actually think that means we should be a missionary too.
Here’s where it hits home. Jesus also says in John 17:18, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Most of us somehow bypass this verse, but Jesus is trying to get us to understand that we’re missionaries just like he was. Every disciple, every believer, and every Christian has been sent by Jesus on mission into the world. We’re all missionaries.
Charles Spurgeon understood this concept in such a way that he once said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.”
Additionally, Tim Keller says in Center Church, “Not only the apostles but every Christian did evangelism — and they did so endlessly. This is why the early church made disciples at lightning speed. It wasn’t because they had fancy programs or great productions, it was because every believer operated as a missionary. There was no such thing as a ‘foreign missionary.’”
So, what if you viewed your job as mission? Most people see their job as a means to a paycheck. What if you believed that Jesus wanted you to use your job to get to know people in your industry, love them, care for them, do honest business, make your product a benefit to society, demonstrate the kingdom, and share the truth of the gospel with them
What if you viewed your home as mission? Most of us see our homes as a functional heaven that we turn into an idol, or we see our homes as a refuge from the world, like a shelter to get away from what’s happening in our culture. But what if you used your home for kingdom purposes, invited people over for get-togethers and parties, practiced hospitality to your un-churched friends and neighbors, blessed them with good food, and demonstrated the gospel to them? This was the first thing Levi did after becoming a Christian. He hosted a big party and brought all his lost friends over to meet Jesus.
I personally want hundreds of people to some into our home, become friends, eat meals, talk about life, and accept Christ at our kitchen table. I want to model what it looks like to have a gospel home, a gospel family, a home where we love Jesus and we love one another, a home where the husband loves and serves his wife, a home where the dad cares for his kids and cherishes them…that’s my goal. What’s the goal for your home
Go to the lost, don’t expect the lost to come to you.
Jesus didn’t sit around and wait for people to come to him. He pursued people. Most churches set up shop on Sunday’s and expect lost people to show up. They create a clever quote and put it on the marque by the road assuming it will cause lost people to flood in, but it doesn’t really work that way. Most Non-Christians don’t read a church’s marque. Most Non-Christians don’t want to show up to church on Sunday. Most Non-Christians will never walk through the doors of a church building.
Steve Timmis, Everyday Church, “The number of adults in the United States who do not attend church has nearly doubled since 1991. Over 3,500 United States churches close their doors every year, and the attendance of more than 80 percent of those remaining has plateaued or is declining. We can no longer assume that if people want to find God or discover meaning or cope with a personal crisis, they will go to church. Merely opening our doors each Sunday is no longer sufficient.”
Jesus never commanded the lost to come to church. He commanded the church to go to the lost.
Many churches make it their goal to separate themselves from Non-Christians. The church is like a retreat from the evil, wicked world. “Let’s keep the good people in and the bad people out.” But, this is the Pharisee’s model, not Jesus’ model. Christians, though holy and distinct from the world, should never try to be more holy than Jesus and withdraw from culture. The minute you begin to retreat from culture and disengage from the world, you’ve turned into a Pharisee rather than a follower of Jesus.
Religious people run from sinners. Gospel people run to sinners.
By the grace of God, I pray our church lives on mission and runs after sinners. This will be our strategy for growing our church.
To learn more about our new church plant, The Bridge Church, go here.