When it comes to working out what your church will do, you first have to figure out what your people are able to do. There is no point coming up with an amazing plan for outreach if it centres around certain key skills your people don’t have or time commitments they aren’t in any position to commit to. You ultimate have to ask what can our people do, what are they interested in, what will they be able to do. Everything else, whilst lovely to think about, is ultimately not workable in practice.
When it comes to church life, there are lots of questions that rear their head again and again. Among them is this: what should we do? Obviously, lying behind that question is a series of others. What, exactly, is the mission of the church? What has God specifically called his people to do? Has he set any boundaries for how they ought to do it? There are many others besides.
But let’s just assume some things for a moment. Let’s assume we all agree that the mission of the church is to make disciples. That is, telling people about Jesus and seeking to grow them to maturity in Christ. Let’s assume for a moment that we all agree the gospel is the key to making disciples. That is, nobody will become a disciple of Jesus without understand the gospel, the good news of who he is and what he came to do. Let’s assume for the moment that we all agree that making disciples, then, involves telling those who don’t know about Jesus about him and telling those who do know Jesus the things about him that will lead to their growth in maturity.
With all those assumptions in place, let’s now ask our question: what should the church do? Or, more specifically, what should my church do? Are there particular things that my church should be doing? How do we even figure out what exactly we ought to do to make and grow disciples?
I think there are two groups of people you need to think about when answering this question. First, who has God given to this particular church? Who are its members? What are their particular skills and interests? What are they able to do? What are they specifically unable to do? We have to look at the gifts, resources and abilities of the people the Lord has given to us and ask what is possible for these particular people to do.
Second, we have to think about who the Lord has placed around us. What demographics are in our community? What are the needs? Are there places these particular people congregate? If not, what ways can we create spaces where that might happen? Are there places they go that I could go with them? Are there places I can go with them where it would be easier, more natural and most appropriate to share the gospel? Are there places it would be inappropriate for me to try and share them gospel with them?
These are not the only questions we might want to ask of these two groups of people. But these are the two groups we ought to be asking these sorts of questions of. 1. Who has the Lord given to us in the church (and what can they do)? 2. Who has the Lord placed around us (and what can we do with them)?