My associate pastor recently brought a question back from a conference he attended which has stuck with me. It is a basic and simple question, but the answer is not easy for most churches to be honest about. So I want everyone reading this to pause and think about how you would answer this: If your church closed its doors tomorrow, would the community notice?
Not, would the people in the building notice. Not would your pastor, deacons or staff notice. But would the community notice. Would the people who live next door to your church, or across the street, or a block away from your church notice you have gone dark? I fear that a majority of the churches across the country today would simply be an empty building, and very little community impact if their doors were to close.
We have become a church society that only shows a concern or care for the things that occur in our building. We want to start ministering to the lost only after they come through our doors and drop something in the collection plate. But when it comes to those down the street from us, well, we will just wait until they grace our doorway. If we were honest with ourselves, we would see that most churches have become a social club, and not a house to bring those to God.
Many times when I speak about this, people think I am talking about money. And nothing could be further from the truth. What I am talking about is making God’s Word known to those around your building. Do the people who live in the vicinity of your church know what times your services are? Do they know if you have a Wednesday or Sunday evening service? Do they know about your kids programs? These are the things I am speaking of. If someone lives right beside your building, but have no idea what time you worship, are you actually doing effective community outreach to bring people into a relationship with Christ?
Slick flyers, fancy videos on social media and cool praise teams are meaningless if the people next door don’t know your foundation is on God. At some point, we have to stop being concerned with the numbers coming through the doors of the church, and start become concerned with those outside our buildings. But we seem content to sit in our nice buildings, sing our familiar songs, and be home in time to be on the couch for kickoff. We spread the Gospel message week in and week out to the same people, and there is nothing wrong with that. But we also must spread the message to those who do not come through the doors of a church. We must let our community know the church is there to help with any issue they are going through. We must not just become an empty building six days a week.
As we head into 2018, pause for a moment and honestly ask yourself how much outreach you are doing, both in your church, and in your life. Look at the areas in your life where your have fallen short in reaching out to people for Christ and concentrate on building those areas up in the new year. Perhaps most important of all, look at your church and honestly assess how much impact are you having in your community. Is your building simply a building for Sunday morning coffee and socializing, or is it a beacon those without Christ to come to know our Lord and Savior?