Missional Living

Big Questions
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Q I’ve tried to get my fellow church members to get excited about evangelizing our community, without much luck. Can you help?

A According to Rev. Keith Doornbos, director of the Church Renewal Lab, most Christian Reformed churches believe their lives are centered within the church walls. This makes it difficult to imagine reaching people beyond the social networks of church, home, and Christian school. Because most church members don’t feel the need to break away from their strong social relationships, trying to build a bridge into their communities becomes a hard sell.

In light of that situation, Doornbos makes a statement that’s worth considering: “Churches are perfectly structured to get the results they are getting. So unless they are perfectly happy with how they are making more and better disciples who transform lives and communities for Christ, things need to change.” In other words, more of the same doesn’t work.    
Perhaps the following suggestions will help.

First, try gathering a small group of members to take a walk and talk with people about their needs. What problems, hopes, and dreams for their community are people expressing? Record the answers and make them a matter of prayer and reflection. Then make these needs the focus of the church. Second, don’t the deny the current reality of your church and community. Deal with it head on; engage leaders and members to reimagine the church with people different than yourself. Third, get help. The Church Renewal Lab housed at Calvin Theological Seminary has a two-year process of helping churches to break the cycle of insularity toward missional engagement. Sometimes we need others to help reimagine a better way to be the church. Might the Lord be nudging your church to take this step?  

About the Author

Reginald Smith is the Director of Diversity for the Christian Reformed Church. He attends Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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