They realize being sent is the call of God. They understand being sent isn’t a future event or an overseas calling. Being sent is a lifestyle. A way of living. The way of Jesus.
3) Traditional stances on moral and cultural issues are re-examined.
Recently, I talked with a man who used to be in ministry. This man focused his ministry on reaching the lost and unchurched. For a season, everyone was enthusiastic about this shift. But eventually, excitement relinquished and reality set in. Leaders began asking questions. People were coming to Jesus who lived together before marriage, had broken marriages and everything in between. This forced everyone to re-examine issues like homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, etc.
You see, when your church focuses on reaching the lost, the issues most Christians talk about abstractly become concrete. Sexual immorality has a name. Tom. Jill. Billy. These are real people with real struggles. They aren’t ideas. And this creates tension. Healthy tension, but tension nonetheless.
If your church isn’t re-examining traditional stances on certain issues, you probably aren’t reaching people who struggle with these issues.
4) Church attendance is no longer the primary metric for church growth.
If your church is focused on reaching the lost, weekly attendance will decrease. Some regular church members will leave, and new converts won’t initially attend church regularly.
But this is where using attendance as a primary metric is dangerous. If your church is reaching the lost, attendance might decrease, but engagement will increase. And engagement drives church growth and effectiveness, not church attendance. The issue with most insider-focused churches is engagement can be a very difficult thing to measure. And these churches must have a concrete metric to gauge the condition of the church.
Churches focused on reaching the lost value church attendance, but they never allow a packed room to be more important than engaged people. Because decreased attendance isn’t always a bad thing. It might be a sign your church is ready to reach the lost.
5) Leaders admit struggles and sins.
One thing the lost and unchurched sniff out immediately is … hypocrisy. And a hypocrite isn’t someone who sins or struggles. A hypocrite is someone who knows sin exists but either covers it up or is blind to it. The lost won’t hang around in churches where everyone has it all together. I don’t blame them.
Churches focused on the lost have members keenly aware of their sin. These churches will be transparent about sin. This starts with the leaders, but it doesn’t stop with them. A culture of authenticity and openness is present in these churches. This might come off as a sign of weakness to some insider-focused churches, but it is really a sign of strength. Because it is in weakness God is glorified. It is through sin the gospel’s power comes to life.
Don’t expect those who don’t know Jesus (or those who understand the infinitely wide gap between man’s sinfulness and God’s perfection) to be at a church where leaders aren’t confessing and repenting.
6) Programs and events are scrapped.
Churches focused on the lost and unchurched always filter programs and events through the mission and vision. These churches realize neat, tidy programs and events often hinder spiritual growth and development. And they aren’t willing to keep a program on life support at the expense of losing people.