Friday’s post on the “10 Politically Incorrect Reasons We’re Still Married” has generated, by far, the most traffic of anything I’ve ever written since I started my website over eight years ago.
Aren’t you curious to know the impetus for that post? Here it is… I had learned of three more people in recent days who were a part of my life in some fashion but disqualified themselves from ministry because of sexual sin. The list of people in my life who have made similar mistakes is now approaching close to 20 church leaders.
All of these stories remind me that I’m one stupid decision away from being in their same situation. They remind me that temptations, especially sexual temptations, are something we all face. They remind me that we worship a God who offers second chances. But they also remind me that we need to be taking intentional next steps to protect our marriages.
That said, I’d like to continue this theme of being politically incorrect, because I think there are some lessons church leaders can glean from my experience the last couple of days. These are the principles no one talks about any more because they suggest that the church needs to be more attractional in its approach.
Let me offer a few lessons that we can learn from this experience:
1. People engage when you address felt needs. The biggest felt need that both singles and married people have is for a healthy marriage. If I were a pastor, this would drive me to routinely offer biblical perspective on this topic. At a minimum, I would offer a marriage series once a year. And then I would try to identify other critical felt needs that I should address.
2. People crave practical application. If I were a pastor, this would remind me that I can’t just stop at offering biblical truth. I can’t just offer altar calls and assume people will take appropriate next steps with their behaviors. I would have to give specific, practical examples of how that truth plays out in daily life.
3. People want their leaders to reveal their secret lives. That’s what demonstrates authenticity and builds trust. If I were a pastor, my messages would be filled with personal stories of how the principles I’m teaching have impacted my life. And, I would continue pursuing holiness so that my secret life can be made public.
4. People will invite their friends when they have a reason to invite their friends. This article was shared on Facebook by over 2,500 people. The reason I had so many “visitors” to my site in the last couple of days is because friends invited friends. If I were a pastor, I’d make sure we were teaching messages that caused people to invite their friends. If the church has stopped growing, the most obvious question should be: Why have people stopped inviting their friends? (By the way, it’s not their fault. When invitations stop happening, it’s your fault.)
5. When more people show up, more people will hear the message. There have been 10,000 unique visitors to my site in the last couple of days. They came because of one message, but they also had the opportunity to see what I do, what I write about, the resources I offer, etc. If I were a pastor, I’d want to draw a bigger crowd so more people would hear the Gospel message and take their next steps toward Christ.
Honestly, I’m kind of getting worn out with all this talk about “missional” in churches. Yes, I’m all for people living out their faith in their neighborhoods, their workplace, their social circles, etc. We should serve people outside the walls of the church building. Disciples of Jesus make disciples. I completely get that.
What frustrates me is the opportunity we’re missing to reach more people because we’re afraid to talk about the real issues that real people wrestle with daily. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, sex, parenting, money, pace of life, purpose, overcoming challenges, etc.
Don’t use the Gospel as an excuse. Jesus offered healing in many instances before people found faith. We need to help people find physical, emotional and relational health, too.
Don’t use being missional as an excuse. Jesus taught on real life issues and crowds gathered. We need to be intentional about drawing crowds to hear the Gospel message, too.
Don’t let theories of doing church get in the way of the church impacting the lives of real people.