I want to pose a very challenging question to you. If your church closed its doors and was taken out of your community, what difference would it make to the impacting of lostness? A positive way of asking the question is, simply, how much is your church doing to impact unbelievers with the Gospel?
It is a sobering question because it strips us of all the other options in regard to “doing church.” The question is not would your community miss your church if it ceased to exist, but rather would significantly fewer people hear the Gospel and fewer people be saved?
Jesus described His mission as seeking and saving that which is lost. He did many other things while on Earth, but all funneled toward His singular mission of impacting lostness through His willingness to become Savior. His ministry of healing, teaching and serving pointed people to their need for a Savior.
Every step He took was a measured step toward the cross and His sacrifice for our sin. Nothing, including a myriad of good things and a constant presentation of other needs, prohibited Him from fixing His eyes on the cross and on lost humanity all around Him.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories of lostness. He uses three pictures-a lost sheep, a lost coin and a son-to point the church clearly to a focus on lostness. There is a powerful picture of the abandonment of every other endeavor in order to find that which is lost. Does that reflect the ministry of your church?
If the empirical evidence is accurate, few of our churches engage in that kind of relentless pursuit of the lost sheep around them. We have fooled ourselves into a comfort zone that placates and pampers the saved while letting the harvest rot in the field.
In truth, if many churches ceased to exist, lost people in their communities would hardly notice. Stinging? Harsh? No. It is the unfortunate truth. How many churches do you know that are willing to abandon every good thing to set their primary focus on seeking the lost? Most of us stay in the sheepfold and hope the lost sheep finds its way on its own.
Impacting lostness demands a strategic and intentional choice on the part of a pastor and people. It requires a fresh look at the community to identify who are the unreached. It most often necessitates change in commitment of time and resources.
Is your church willing to do whatever it takes to seek and save the lost in your community? Are you willing to make 2007 the year your church impacts lostness in your neighborhood?
A good barometer to determine how much your church would be missed by the lost in your town would be to analyze last year’s baptism record. How many people who were not already connected to the church were reached for Christ? How many teenagers and adults came to Christ?
I challenge you to be brutally honest with your answer to the original question. If your church closed its doors and was taken out of your community, what difference would it make to the impacting of lostness?