The Five Hour Challenge: Turning Your Church Outwardly Focused

The Five Hour Challenge: Turning Your Church Outwardly Focused

I was hesitant to write this post about making your church outwardly focused.

Indeed, I could see church members using this post to advocate that the pastor needs to do more of the work of ministry like evangelism. I’ve heard similar words many times: “After all, that’s what we pay the pastor to do.”

Such words are shameful. Such words are unbiblical.

But I do have to challenge pastors and church leaders. In recent years I have noticed a precipitous decline in the amount of time church leaders spend doing evangelism or doing activities that have an outward focus.

And here is the reality: If the pastors and church leaders are not serious about reaching people with the gospel, you can’t expect the members to do so. Most pastors are spending less than two hours a week in outwardly-focused ministries, specifically evangelism. They have become so busy doing good things they neglect obedience to the Great Commission.

Here is my simple challenge: Commit at least five hours a week to evangelism and outwardly-focused ministries. Mark those five hours on your calendar like any other appointment. Make those five hours a priority. Do not come up with busyness and excuses that keep you from fulfilling your challenge.

This challenge should apply to all vocational ministers on staff. If you are full-time, commit five hours. If you are half-time, commit three hours (yeah, I rounded up).

To make your church outwardly focused, here are some suggestions for your five hours each week:

  • Take a non-Christian or unchurched person to lunch.
  • Write five handwritten notes to people who do not have a church home and have visited your church.
  • Email or text 20 people who are looking for a church home.
  • Take two hours to walk and pray for homes in your community.
  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel every day.
  • Find a person in need in your community. Help them. Let them know you are doing it as an ambassador for Christ.
  • Start a Bible class that meets every week for eight weeks. Advertise on Facebook that the class will give you a basic overview of the entire Bible. Meet no more than one hour a week. You might be surprised how many non-Christians show up.
  • Have a 15-minute stand-up meeting with your staff each week. Ask them how they spend their five hours.

You readers are very creative. I know you can share with us many other ways to be outwardly focused. Let us know some of your ideas. Let us know what you are currently doing.

Don’t expect to make your church outwardly focused unless you are outwardly focused.

Consider taking the five-hour challenge.

This article originally appeared here.

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

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