If you are part of a club or an organization that only allowed people to join by invitation you would probably be extremely excited to accept their offer to become a member. You made it in! Conversely, after you have accepted their invitation, you might be a little upset if they decided to allow more and more people to join the ranks.
When you were on the outside you may have wished that more people would be allowed on the inside. Unfortunately, what happens often is that when you finally get on the inside you will be tempted to keep outsiders on the outside. You grow increasingly more concerned with how the club serves you than inviting more people into your club. Ironically, club growth may actually be part of the club’s mission.
Interesting right? I think this happens with churches. Churches adopt a club mentality. Over time they experience an eroding of their mission. When this occurs mission becomes maintenance. Instead of reaching people we are mostly concerned with keeping people.
A church on mission is a lighthouse – leading people into the presence of Jesus amidst the tumultuous storms of the night. A church with an eroded mission becomes a clubhouse where members protect their privileges and perks – valuing safety and separation from the world while maintaining everyone’s happiness, comfort, and preferences.
A lighthouse church has an increasing burden for those far from God.
A clubhouse church has a decreasing burden for those far from God.
A lighthouse church says, “there is always room for one more.”
A clubhouse church says, “we’ve got plenty.”
There is no such thing as a full church.
We desire to be an organization that is outward focused. A church that is on mission believes that it exists for those who have yet to follow Jesus. There is always room for one more. One more guest. One more friend. One more spouse. One more son or daughter. One more mom and dad; husband or wife. One more single person. One more sinner. One more saint.
So to wrap up this series of posts on Organizational Habits, I have one more I would like to share. (The full list is at the bottom of this post.)
- Engage Those Far from God.
“For God so loved the world he sent his one and only son…” We want to love the people that God loves. God loves the world. God loves everyone. We love the world and we love everyone.
God’s love is manifested in His patience.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
God’s big desire is that everyone would turn from their sin and turn to Him.
We can turn from our sin because God turned His back on Christ (Psalm 22) when he became sin for all of us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ “took [our] burdens all away” like the gospel hymn, He Gave Me a Song.
Unburdened by our sin, joy is set free and we are loosed to sing His praises. We were weary and heavy laden until we accepted Jesus’ invitation to come to Him.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:29-30 NIV)
Restful people, like Jesus, will not rest until everyone finds rest in Him.
We are not burdened with self-preservation but with becoming salt and light. We preserve His gospel to preserve the world from decay.
To develop an increasing burden for those who have yet to receive Christ as savior we must ask, “What are we continually doing as an organization to engage those who are far from God?”
- When we wake up may our eyes be open to a world that needs Jesus.
- When we eat may we think of the many who have yet to accept the invitation to sit at the Lord’s table.
- When we pray may we ask for opportunities to share our faith.
- When we speak may our words be seasoned with salt.
- When we are questioned may we give reason for the hope we have in Christ.
- When in our neighborhoods may we invite people to church.
- When we gather for worship may we expect to meet new people that God has sent our way so that we can practice hospitality.
- When we preach may we always consider the person who is unchurched, de-churched, or never-churched.
- When the congregation prays together may we always be reminded to pray for those who are far from God.
- When we hold staff meetings may we follow-up with each guest that gives contact information.
- When we plan may we always consider what might make it easy for those who are turning to God.
May we do these things each week by the grace of God, for the glory of God.
Our desire is to practice these habits so that we can continue to learn what it takes to be an outward focused staff and an outward focused church.
What else do you think you can do to increase your burden for those who are far from God?
If you missed the other posts on our Organizational Habits, you can find them by following these links: