Today I spent the afternoon with my friend, Rev. Jeff Severt. He is the Congregational Development specialist for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Part of what we discussed is the creation of a model for the renewal of churches in small and mid-sized towns who are failing to reach the indigenous population of those communities. At St. Paul UMC we are beginning to be burdened for our community and are evaluating what gifts God has given us inside the congregation to build bridges to those outside the congregation. Below is an excellent video where Alan Hirsch challenges we who call ourselves leaders of Christian churches to realized that our current models may only reach 40% of the population, leaving 60% without any contact with the Gospel that we say is invaluable to their lives and their eternities. There are three essential elements in reaching our communities:
- Familiarization: we have to understand our communities. We need to spend time in the streets, coffee shops, and community centers and learn where the hurts are in our towns and cities. It is so easy to hide behind our stained glass windows and forget to leave the building because that is where the people are.
- Evaluation: what are we doing that we need to stop doing? What do we need to start doing to be able to impact our community? Our churches need to spend time in serious, prayerful evaluation of our culture, our spiritual health and vitality, and our strengths and discover what God has next for the life of our congregation.
- Initiation: do something! We are paralyzed by the fear of failure. So what if we fall flat on our faces, take some action to connect with your community. The key is to keep trying until you discover what actually allows you to have a prophetic impact upon the community where God has called you. Find a way to live out your divine calling!
A significant part of your community, and mine, are completely untouched by the life transforming power of Jesus. Just today I had a conversation with some one who said that St. Paul has caused them to completely re-evaluate their world view, and we have only begun the path that God has called us to travel. Let's reach the 60%!
Consumed by the Call,