This is just a random thought that went through my mind this morning as I was looking through the weekly bulletin of a traditional church. This thought is not to bring an accusation on any church, and is very general; however, I hope it will serve to push us all toward thinking about those who are not yet convinced of the claims of Jesus.
It seems as though most Christians, churches, and Christian organizations are more focused on Christians than on those who are not yet Christians. Now, I know that I am not the first person to entertain this thought, and certainly not the first person to say it out loud or put it in print, but it just really hit me this morning.
For instance, I remember when I was on staff at traditional churches. (BTW, when I say traditional, I mean institutional, with nothing to do with style of worship.) When we had programs, events, activities, etc., 99.9% of these were organized and planned with Christians in mind. Sundays were geared toward those who were already Christians. I know that the Gospel was usually presented, but given all the religious distractions, I am not surprised that very few non-believers ever crossed the line of faith in these events or gatherings.
In your ministry setting things may be different, but in my experience, we are woefully lacking when it comes to reaching out to non-Christians and helping them discover the Truth of Jesus. Instead, we cast a huge shadow on the cross with a lot of our “religious” activity.
This is why I love simplicity. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t do stuff for Christians. What I am saying is that we, as Christians must look at how we are using our resources in the Kingdom. If we are wasting all of them on ourselves, we are doing Jesus a disservice. He didn’t die so we could have fun in our holy huddles while the world went to Hell without a faithful witness. Every Christian should be a disciple-maker, and I don’t mean just teaching the already convinced. Maybe it could be said that every Christian should be a missionary disciple-maker. We need missionaries in the workplace, in the marketplace, on the trading floor, in the malls, on campuses, in the bars, at the movies, in coffee houses, and anywhere else people tend to gather.
To sum this thought up, I will share some action steps that we can all take as individuals, small groups, Sunday School classes, youth groups, churches, etc. (Note – these are adapted from Gary Poole’s “Seeker Small Groups” and mixed with my personal experience over the last year and a half):
Become aware of Jesus’ heart for the lost– Read and reread the Gospels with a special emphasis on how Jesus interacted with the hurting and dejected.
Pray – I don’t mean this to sound cliche, but without prayer what do we expect to accomplish? Make a list of those around you that you know don’t know Christ. Share this list with at least one other person and begin praying for these people.
Talk it up – There is nothing like a strong vision to motivate and push people toward action! Take up the cross of pursuing lost people and find many who will follow you. Be a sounding board for evangelism within you Christian community.
Know what you are talking about– As a Christian you should know the Gospel story inside and out. You should always be able to tell someone what Jesus did for you, but get prepared even beyond that. Push yourself to learn more. Remember, always be ready to explain the hope that lies within you (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Hang out where lost people are– Make an effort to step outside of your comfort zone and out of the four walls of holiness, and into the lives of those who don’t know Jesus. This is a scary step, because for most Christians it is one of complicated unknowns. I think the biggest hang-up here will be the feeling that other Christians may talk bad about our new friends or places that we frequent. Just remember, it was the religious people who labeled Jesus a drunkard and friend of sinners. This didn’t happen because He was a “pew-sitter”!
Well, I’ve got several more things we can do, but I will save them for now. This post has gone much further than I expected.
Stay tuned for more…