One of my friends many years ago stated, ‘When a church begins to become outward focused; begins to step up; begins to serve their community it’s like placing a major change agent within that church.’
When we serve our community motivated by God’s love and kindness (missional), and when people begin to arrive, the church will have to embrace change. In order for people to stick, the people arriving will have to discover an atmosphere where people can find forgiveness, love, hope and acceptance. (attractional)
consistency is the key…
Consistency within and consistency without.
Over the years I’ve studied effective evangelism and investigated growing church models. Both seem to reveal one important aspect… consistency. Being aware of others, going, serving, caring and sharing on a consistent basis and maintaining a creative yet consistent atmosphere within.
Missional…church on mission.
Twenty or so years ago Steve Sjogren and Dave Workman helped create the idea of serving others…consistently. The people of Cincy Vineyard served, and served and created a positive up atmosphere within.
The Dayton Vineyard launched out of Cincinnati 15 or so years ago. Leaders Doug Roe and Scott Sliver also have been consistent… year in and year out. Going, serving, reaching their community, and consistently developing a pretty good church for everyday people.
Now the serving(missional) movement is becoming encouragingly mainstream.
Question? How do you know when your serving has started to make an impact within a community?
Answer: People you talk to begin to define your church in a positive manner. (hint: every church is defined by our community, both positive and negative)
Oh, that’s the church that (fill in the blank) ______________________________.
If you want to know how your community defines your church begin to listen to your community and begin to ask questions.
The church that no longer existed.
When I was living in a city in FL we were defined by the as the church ‘that no longer existed’. Ouch! It was hard to hear, but the church stepped up and began to serve, care and reach. Their consistent serving their community (missional) and their creative atmosphere (attractional) has changed the tone. They are now well known within the community with three church locations that are marked by a positive spin.
I trashed my phone, (ever drove off with your phone left on top of your car?) went to phone provider to purchase a new phone.
I was asked, ‘What business name is your phone registered?’ I said, ‘the Dayton Vineyard.’The lady standing next to me in line exclaims: ‘Oh you’re that pretty good church that serves the community! I’ve heard about what you guys do.’ I then asked, ‘What have your heard?’ she then described many positive things she and others have heard and seen. Humbly, but joyfully, I replied, ‘yep that’s us. ‘We’re just pretty good.’
How’d this happen? Simple years of hard work. Going, sowing, caring, praying, in season and out of season. We are consistent without and creatively consistent within.
Jesus summed it up:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.
Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.
John 4:34-37 NIV
Peter said, ‘Let your good deeds shine in such a way, that people will glorify God on the day of His visitation.’
How do outward focused churches remain both attractional and missional?
No big secret: someone somewhere is ‘doin the stuff.’
Someone is praying, someone is worshipping, someone is serving, someone is loving, someone is caring, someone is going out into the community sharing Gods love in practical ways… consistently.
Good deeds, done in the name of Jesus + the love and grace that God provides + going out into our community, day in day out, moment by moment =’s Consistent.
A church that has an inviting atmosphere + positive worship + people being encouraged by life change messages + a sense of God’s presence, week in and week out =’s Consistent.