Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why Growing Your Church and Reaching Your Community are not the Same Thing

"Growing your church" and "Reaching your community" are the most queried search terms leading people to this blog. Sometimes these phrases are separate, but more often than not they appear together, “How can I grow my church and reach my community.”

Growing a church and reaching a community are both great goals, but they are not the same goal. They seek two different ends and require two different strategies.

When one thinks about growing a church, they usually think in terms of numerical growth, attendance, or the oft cited B’s: baptisms, budget, and buildings. However, when one thinks of reaching the community, they are thinking of how to communicate the gospel to those in the area that are outside the church. The two ideas can work hand in hand, but the second one is much larger in scope than the first.

Imagine a couple of fishermen on the lake in a fishing boat. They have a goal of catching as many fish as they can. What they can fish, however is limited by the size of their ice chest. Whatever technique they use, whatever part of the lake they fish in, their work is done when the ice chest is full.

Whether or not we want to admit it, churches operate much like those fishermen, concerned with outreach until the building is full. Then they turn to maintenance or expansion (a more expensive option). Churches that choose to expand, continue the outreach until the new building is full, then they turn must make the decision again, expansion or maintenance.

Even the largest mega churches are unable to reach an entire city. At best they reach 1-2%. In my opinion, the question that needs to be asked is not, how can we grow our church, but rather how can we reach our community? What is it going to take? What needs to change about the way we are doing things? Those are harder questions to answer.

Thinking of the fishermen might help when thinking of the task of the Great Commission. What would they need to change? What is our parallel?

3 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

Unfortunately, the actual question being asked is "how can reaching out to the community grow our church?" That has been true in every church I've worked in. While the focus is on filling the building, reaching the community in any real way will never be possible.

Stephen M. Young II said...

You got the question just right. Churches often ask how evangelism or outreach can grow their kingdom, rather than what they need to be doing to grow His Kingdom.

Raisa Costa said...

That's true by the way. The church mortgage in USA types helps churches growing. Griffin Church Loans really supports this.

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