This past week we lost one of the grand ladies of Crosswalk, Martha Lloyd. She devoted her life to serving the Lord through her church. She was church secretary, organist, and Sr. Adult ministry leader, among other things. Her memorial service is this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in our worship center. We are grateful to God for servants like Martha, and rejoice that she is now breathing celestial air in God’s presence.
Easter is approaching and I want to review with you some of the cultural trends in America that have been identified, and how it affects our strategy to reach others.
Surprisingly, People are still Receptive to the Church
Some studies have shown that there is still a substantial percentage of the population with sincere goodwill towards Christians and towards churches. Most of these folks sees church attendance as an admirable quality in people. This receptivity is something we should unashamedly embrace, and warmly invite others to attend church with us. This is called the “come and see” approach (See John 1:46). It is also called the attractional method. God created people for himself, so there is some internal “draw” in people to come to the Lord. We are producing some attractive invitation cards so you can invite your friends to attend church with you on Easter.
In other words, as part of our strategy to reach our communities, we want to be invitational. We want to take advantage of this general receptivity many people have toward church.
However, many missiologists indicate that this won’t always be the case, and in fact that…
The Receptivity People have for Church is in Decline
This process has already begun, and over the next few years and maybe decades people will become less and less receptive to church. As this happens, our strategy must be adjusted. In this environment, we need a more incarnational strategy as opposed to an attractional one. In other words, “come and see” will give way to “go and tell.”
We still have some cultural goodwill in which to make an investment, but increasingly as the years roll by, a new strategy is needed. For example, it used to be in years past that a church could saturate the community with flyers inviting people to come and enjoy their informal, “user friendly” worship services, with kids programs and lots of free coffee. The results were often positive. However, those days are leaving us.
This doesn’t mean we should abandon the attractional emphasis. But as the trend shifts the church needs to be more of a presence in the community. Just as Jesus came to planet earth, and sent his disciples to the ends of the earth, so a church can rebuild lost goodwill by seeing themselves as a community sent into their community.
A Church Can Rebuild Lost Goodwill
Here’s just one example: Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”(Matthew 5:14-16).
In other words, our good works of serving our community can increase the receptivity to our message. Of course, I am not at all talking about substituting “doing good works” for proclaiming the gospel. Rather, I’m talking about service and proclamation going together.
The apostle Paul put it like this: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:8).
This is why it is such a strategic effort for us to host THE HUNT. Yes, it’s a lot of work. But it serves hundreds of families in our community. In the process of giving these families a great time with their kids, it build goodwill and enhances our credibility with the gospel.
THIS SUNDAY WE WILL HAVE PLASTIC EGGS FOR YOU TO TAKE HOME AND FILL WITH CANDY! YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO MAKE OUR ANNUAL COMMUNITY EASTER EGG HUNT A SUCCESS!
This is why it is such a strategic effort for us to sponsor a Youth for Christ Club at Sunnyvale Middle School. This is why we do many of the things we do.
So for the present time, we will balance the “come and see” approach with the “go and tell” approach. But in the years to come we will likely have to shift more towards “go and tell.”
Let’s make Easter a wonderful opportunity for many to hear the good news about Jesus!