In one of the last posts, I looked at why it is important for inward-looking groups to become outward focused. Here are some ideas that might help:
- Spend time as a church asking God to give you his heart for missions and the people around you.
- Brainstorm around what unreached groups of people are in your city (think outside the box. We're not talking nationalities here, but people groupings such as skateboarders, those in AA meetings etc) Does anyone in the church have a natural contact in any of those groups?
- God is Lord of the harvest, and he has a strategy for your area. Ask Him to lead you into the harvest. Is there a specific group he is leading you to reach out to? He'll show you where to go!
- Think about which (non church-related) groups each person in your church has a natural affinity with. What hobbies or interests groups are represented? Meetup.com may lead you to some groups in your area.
- Are there older kids/teenagers in your church. Reach out via them to their friends. We've started several churches that way.
- Train and equip the group to reach out. If there is a Greenhouse coming up in your area, plan to attend. There is also a 6 week church planting course with an emphasis on working with unbelievers under the Getting Started tab on the http://www.simplechurch.com site.
- Ask the police which are the most needy areas of your city (remember, Jesus came to bring sinners to repentance). Start praying for that area.
- Prayer walk an area of your city that Jesus shows you.
- When you have studied the Bible as a group, ask the question, "Which of my not-yet-Christian friends needs to hear about this?" Hold each other accountable to share with them.
- Practice telling the story of how you became a believer using no Christian jargon with each other. The stories should take only 3-4 minutes. Then each person in the group find several people to share their story with. The next week, share your experiences of what happened. In his book, Church Planting Movements, David Garrison recounts the story of "John" who worked with a group of farmers this way in rural China. Just over a year later, they had 900 churches with more than 12,000 new believers.
- Hang out at a place frequented by not-yet-believers such as your local coffee shop. Deliberately interact with some of them trying to develop friendships. (Remember people are not interested in becoming an evangelism project.)
- Get involved with a secular group that is trying to help some of the marginalized in your city (eg, the homeless or refugees)
Remember, when someone becomes a Christian, it's better to start something in their home and with their friends than to have them join you church.
What other ideas do you have?
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3 replies on “12 ideas to help an inward-looking group to become missional”
Enjoyed the post and agree with everything, however, in our fellowship we have some who are really stressing outreach while others are frustrated with the lack of intentionality about becoming friends and loving one another, and only seeing folks at the meetings. It seems empty to hear about all this outreach when you really wonder if the others truly care about the ones they fellowship with. Like are we gonna reach out to others and then not show genuine interst in them too. I believe in outreach, but how do you answer the question about why get so excited about outreach when we aren’t even becoming friends with each other? I know you can’t force friendships too happen, but it seems that some are really into out reach but very poor at becoming friends with their spiritual family. Is it good to start an outreach with this kind of tension going on?
You have a fascinating question that I suspect is one that many people ask. It sounds to me as though you have a church of existing believers. This is rarely an issue if you are working with new believers or not-yet-believers.
In any situation, you need to ask the Lord about it and do what he tells you. As you seek him he will lead you into more community. But having said that, fellowship of the kind you describe rarely comes if all you do is have meetings together. It is much more likely to come in the rough and tumble of life–sharing meals together, going shopping, getting the kids together, etc.
Alan Hirsch also describes something he calls “communitas.” It’t the sort of fellowship that develops in a stressful situation or around a common task. For example, my father was a prisoner of war during WW2. Until he died, his closest friends were those who had gone through that experience with him. Maybe you could create communitas over a common project together that also reached out into your community. I think of something like working with the homeless, or with kids.
Another principle that hinders church multiplication that your comments also touch on is that of sequentialism. David Garrison covers it in his book, Church Planting Movements. You will slow down a work of God if you insist on things being done in a certain order. First we plant a church, then we make sure our meetings run okay, then we develop community, then we reach out. You are much more likely to see growth if you do all of these things together.
I’ll be interested to know what the Lord shows you. Hope this helps
Thanks, that is very helpful , especially the part about sequentialism. Will be praying for direction, God bless.