Why do churches have such an insatiable desire to build massive structures and monuments to ourselves? It seems over the last several years I’ve noticed many, many churches building million dollar structures to themselves. What do I mean? I’m talking about buildings that we call “sanctuaries” that will only be used a couple of hours per week. Think about that. We build massive buildings that we only use for a few hours per week? Why? I’m sure there are many reasons, but that’s not the purpose of this post. My purpose is to get us thinking “outside the sanctuary.” I’m sure you’ve heard the commercial “think outside the bun.” Well, as churches, we’ve got to be thinking outside the building.
Jesus came to “seek and save that which is lost.” Are we? How do we go about doing so in our culture? The days of people coming to church just because we hang out a sign telling them what time our services begin are over. In fact, they’ve been long gone for a couple of decades now. People don’t attend Revival meetings any more. People don’t come to “preaching” just because it’s the right thing to do. People no longer see the church services we have as entry points.
Entry points? An entry point is a term that I will choose to use hereafter as a reference to how we get people introduced to Jesus Christ. I’m not an advocate of just inviting people to a building. That’s what many seem more comfortable doing. Instead of inviting people to Jesus, we just invite them to the building (as if the building could do anything for them). We say, “Why don’t you come to _______ Baptist Church with me.” Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s great to invite people to church, but let’s be honest. Don’t we really want them to know Jesus? Isn’t that really the goal. So, why don’t we invite them to Christ?
I sincerely believe as church leaders we are going to have to look at what makes people tick in our culture and figure out (as Paul did at Mars Hill) how to engage the culture where they’re at. We have to scratch folks where they itch. Where does our culture itch? Two words come to mind: SPORTS and ENTERTAINMENT. Sad isn’t it? But, it’s true…so, true. Americans spend billions of dollars per year on games, movies, fun and entertainment. People will go to one Nascar race or one basketball game and unload several hundred dollars at the blink of an eye.
So, why don’t we scratch them where they itch? Why don’t we think outside the building? If we don’t, by and large we are going to struggle reaching people. We’ve realized this at Mt. Pleasant and for the last several years we’ve been doing a Passion Play. I posted a picture last week of the closing scene:
It was powerful. Over two weekends (Saturday and Sunday nights) we had almost 2,000 people come through the church. We have reports of 15 souls praying to receive Jesus (reports are still coming in) and dozens of rededications. We had people come through the doors for this free play that haven’t been in a church for years. One lady told me (who is in her mid-40’s) she hasn’t been in church since she was a little girl. She asked Jesus into her heart and wants help getting off of Vodka. We are doing so. She has two children and they need a church family to help them. She said a co-worker had invited her to the play and she decided she’d come. She said, “I’d probably never come on a Sunday morning, because people would judge me, but I thought I was safe at a play.” Now think about that statement. Much could be said there, but the point is…something done “outside of the box” is what brought her to Jesus.
Take a look at the counseling room after the play this past Sunday night…
Many lives were changed forever over the last two weekends. I’m convinced only in eternity will we know the full effects of all that was accomplished. It reminds me of the Wild Game Sportsmen’s Banquet we had a couple of months ago.
We had men and boys in the church that don’t normally attend church. They came to hear about hunting…wild turkey calls…fed a good BBQ meal…and then the Gospel. We had 500 folks packed in listening to the Gospel. Paul said that he would become all things to all people that he might reach some. What can we do as churches to reach out to people. If they won’t come to church on a Sunday morning, how else can we bring them in and get them under the sound of the Gospel? The truth is: most Christians will not equip themselves to share the Gospel one and one. Less than five percent of all Christians (according to Barna Research) has ever led a single soul to Christ. I don’t see that changing. Sad, I know…but, it’s true. We just don’t have an appetite to learn five or six Scriptures like the Roman Road to do so. Yes, so sad. So, we must seek the Lord and ask for ways to touch lives that bring people to us in perhaps new, unconventional ways.
This summer we are going to be trying something new to reach into our community. We are going to be using a field beside of the church and on Saturdays in June and July offer a Flag Football League. We have a local Chick-Fil-A that is going to be helping us with this endeavor:
We hope and desire to have dozens of children and families brought onto the grounds of the church on these 8 Saturdays in June and July. We will be sharing the Gospel at half-time of each game and rubbing shoulders with these families making contacts and developing relationships. Sound crazy? Maybe it is. But Jesus said GO OUT into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Entry points. What can we do to reach people for Jesus?
Years ago we made the decision as a church that we were not going to build a sanctuary and spend $4-5 million to do so. Instead, we built a multi-purpose building. We have to do a ton of work each week to set up for services, meals, etc. But, we knew it was the best way to reach people. We wanted to use the Lord’s money wisely, so we built something that could be used to reach the community. Hence, the name of the building is the REACH CENTER.
Very few people are going to fill these spots in our parking lots on Sunday mornings. We’ve got to go get folks and engage the culture by making new ENTRY POINTS. Let’s use our resources to do local missions and reach the lost. Even if it’s not the way we’ve always done it. 🙂