What brings people to Jesus Christ and then to become a part of the local church?
First impressions do matter. But, what if you can’t afford to renovate or build? Certainly you can keep your rooms attractively decorated and clutter free. Is that enough?
If you want to reach people where they are, you need to be willing to change. Adapting to people without losing the content of the truth we proclaim requires lots of insight. But, is being on the cutting edge enough?
How will people know what you have to offer if you don’t communicate? Both verbal and written communication are at the core of salvation as “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:14-17). Communication is at the core of our educational or discipleship efforts in the church as it is knowing the truth that will set people free (Jn. 8:32). Is simply letting people know what you have to offer enough?
While a leader with a charismatic personality does seem to draw people in, it take various types of leaders to bring balance, health, and growth to the church. If this kind of leadership team is in place, will that be enough?
While all of these factors, plus others, will contribute to the big picture, none of them can be singled out as the greatest draw in outreach. None of these means alone or combined are enough because the greatest and absolutely essential drawing factor is God Himself. In John 6:44 Jesus said,
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
God doesn’t need our strategic efforts. He can draw people to Himself with or without us. He may chose to use us in the process but a person’s salvation is not dependent on what we do or don’t do. If God did not draw people to Himself, all our efforts would be in vain.
The implications for outreach are obvious:
1) Intercessory prayer needs to be made an absolutely vital part of outreach.
Without God in and behind all of this, we will simply have a nice building, great ideas, motivational tools, and skilled people running the church. Let me encourage you to stop right now and examine what you are relying on to lead others to the Lord and bring them in to your local church.
Strategies and programs may have a place but Acts 2:42-47 reminds us that our devotion should not be to our methodology but to God Himself and to those things that put us in touch with Him and demonstrate a dependence on Him — like prayer. Of the early church we are told, “They devoted themselves to . . . prayer. . . . And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Intercessory prayer is vital.
2) Make outreach about Him, not us.
The Outreach Ministry Manual, based on the outreach section of this site, has a sub-title that says what outreach needs to be about — “Turning the Spotlight on Jesus.” We must look hard at our outreach practices. Are we showcasing Him or ourselves?