Here it is April 1 and I am going to pull a cruel joke on you. I am going to spend the next few post talking about outreach. Yes, that is that thing that we Christians seem to be deathly afraid of. But, in my mind that is the primary task for us while we are on this earth. We have to constantly be fighting off treating our church as a country club. In other words as stated by William Temple “the church is the only society in the world that exists for its nonmembers.” I think he should have said “that should exist” instead of “that exist” as I believe that some churches, and probably many, today are more country club than temples for honoring and practicing what Jesus taught us. Our churches should never become just places where we get together on a regular basis to share each other’s company and have a good time. When it becomes too cozy it has lost it’s primary directive of making disciples. A club spends its dues on the needs of the members. A church should spend its dues on the needs of the nonmembers. Or, at least it should.
As stated by Rick Richardson in his book “Evangelism Outside the Box”
Most churches think they already have good fellowship for pre-Christians, if they could only get them there. Few of us are aware of how our group feels to pre-Christian people. But often our language, our acronyms, our announcements, our music, our messages, the way we pray and our tendency to greet only those we know when we are together put up very noticeable barriers to those who are not yet Christians.
Does this mean that we have to give up our theology, or traditions in order to make a visitor welcome. Certainly not!. But it does mean that maybe we should looks at ourselves as others might see us to see what we “can” change. It is a known fact that, except for the large non-denomination mega churches Christian churches in the United States have been generally shrinking for the last fifteen or so years. It is certainly not because the message has lost its relevancy but instead it is probably because we have lost the best way to present it to an ungodly world. Yes, I certainly believe that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to soften hardened hearts but I also believe that when Jesus said go an make disciples he was putting part of the burden on us.
Many Christian congregations seem to treat change as a slippery slope. That is, they say if we have to change anything we are going to eventually change everything! I don’t buy that for one second. I think that mentality is an irrational response to mankind’s general fear of change itself. Don’t put irrational barriers in the way of others who are seeking to know something about this person called Jesus Christ.