Are you reaching your backyard?

The following is adapted from an article that can be found at:

http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/248202-7-reasons-church-isnt-reaching-lost-backyard.html/2

Like the author, I have seen combinations of some or all these factors in the course of 30 plus years in ministry.   I pays to sit back once in awhile and ask some hard questions about your church.

These are offered as a catalyst for discussion:

1. They’ve lost their “Gospel urgency.”

In the average church, there is not a “whatever it takes” mentality when it comes to reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus Christ.  It may stem from a lack of compassion.  A lack of urgency about Hell.  It may just be that church members become comfortable with each other and their fellowship together.

Members need to have a renewed sense of reality regarding what it means to be lost.  What Hell is all about.

2. The leadership doesn’t model it.

Sometimes church leaders (pastors included) become so involved in keeping the lights on and programs running that they lose contact with the unchurched and unbelieving in their neighborhoods.  They move in social circles that only include their fellow church members or those who at least share their values – even if not church goers.

3. Intercessory prayer is not a true value.

When was the last time you prayed for someone who is an unbeliever?   I heard a sermon not long ago entitled — “I want names!”   The point of the sermon was we don’t really know our neighbors, rarely speak with those living closest to us.

Can you name the people living next door?  Can you tell me anything about them?  Are you praying for them on a regular basis?

4. Evangelism training rarely happens (if at all).

Rarely is evangelism talked about (see number 6 below), and even rarer is training to evangelize.   One friend talks about including the Plan of Salvation (POS) in every sermon.  And that is OK — but do we preach about how to initiate conversations about the POS with those in our world?

When was the last time you church actually had a training dedicated to evangelizing your world?

5. The Gospel is not relentlessly given.

Like I said above in number 4 — Is the POS part of your service, message, communications.   I don’t think that every sermon has to have the full gospel message.

At the same time there should be some indication in every service what the “Next Step” might be – or where a “seeker” could go to find out more.

6. They’ve exchanged evangelism for “outreach.”

In far too many churches, outreach has been generalized to the point where the verbal articulation of the Gospel has been exchanged for collecting food for the poor, ministering to the marginalized and reaching out to the hurting. While it’s good to do good, it’s better to do great. And what’s great is when churches meet the physical AND spiritual needs of their communities by sharing the Gospel with their lives AND their lips.
I spoke recently with a church that was very proud of their efforts to pass out water at a community festival.   Which is good, and gets your name out in front of the community.
However, when I asked them if they had plans for follow up or any way to try and get names and addresses — blank stares.
Outreach is good.   Food to the poor is good.   But if we feed the body and neglect the soul we have exchanged the temporary for the eternal.

7. Evangelistic storytelling is not a part of the culture.

In churches that are effective at evangelism, stories of changed lives and saved souls are told consistently. These stories inject Gospel urgency into the congregation. And it gives church members a sense that reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus Christ can truly change their church and their community. True stories of disciple multiplication help believers move all this talk about evangelism from the “fiction” shelf of their mental library to the “nonfiction” section.

Acts 2:42-43

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[i]), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.

Where did this sense of awe come from?   I think it was the continual “awesomeness” of the life change taking place daily!

In so many churches this is missing (read further to see that also missing is the joy of sharing life and ministry together).

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