Why does the church exist? If I asked this question to a thousand Christians, the answer would be fairly consistent across the board. The church exists to reach the lost and make disciples (or some variation of this phrase). The problem is most churches aren’t reaching the lost and making disciples.
Maybe this is because churches don’t understand the culture that must be present to reach the lost. Yes, the Spirit is essential and can work through any church culture. But some cultures are more favorable to the spread of the mission than others. There is a reason some churches are externally focused and others are not. There is a reason some churches are impacting the culture and awakening people to Christ and others are not.
What does a church culture prepared to reach the lost and unchurched look like? I want to introduce 10 signs your church is ready to reach the lost and engage the unchurched.
As you read, you will be surprised. These signs don’t appear to be representative of healthy church cultures. But healthy cultures (at least in terms of stability) rarely focus on the lost. They rarely engage the unchurched. These might be ideas preached from the pulpit, but they are not actions in the lives of members. So, understand, sometimes what appears to be instability and failure is actually growth and forward progress.
Here are 10 signs your church is ready to reach the lost.
1) Longtime church members are upset.
Carey Neiuwhof talks about this here. When the unchurched or lost begin showing up at your church, some longtime church members will become upset. People who don’t know Jesus don’t understand the “code.” They don’t speak the church language. And these church people only like those who speak their language.
But this is not true of everyone. Some Christians will see the shift and be revitalized. They understand the goal is not to be comfortable and safe. And this will ignite their heart toward the mission. So, if your church has some Christians uneasy and upset, don’t feel bad. This is a natural part of a culture focused on reaching the lost. Embrace it.
2) Members celebrate when people are sent into the world.
The God we serve is a God who sends people into the world, not gathers them into a huddle. Likewise, success in the church shouldn’t center around how many are gathered, but how many are sent. Insider-focused churches try to plug people into the life of the church. Churches focused on the lost try to plug the church in the life of the world.
Recently, my wife informed me of a local ministry in Jackson, Tenn., focused on ministering to women at a strip club. These are ordinary women. No special training. Just women who decided volunteering at church wasn’t the extent of their ministry for God. So, Friday nights are not a time to rest and wind down from a long week. They are a time devoted to prayer and showing up at a strip club to minister to women.