I saw this card recently and it made me laugh. It go me thinking about the way Christ really would look at ministry. There was a time in our towns where there existed a definitive other side of the tracks. The reality is that this invisible line is becoming less and less recognizable. When the family who has never experienced church arrives on Sunday our knee jerk reaction is to give them a book as a gift to explain what they need to know. I vividly recall a Sunday School teacher telling me she wasn’t sure if she could keep on with her class. “I haven’t ever taught students who have no Biblical foundation.”
While we are trying to figure out how to approach the differences we forget an important truth: Sin is sin. A hurting heart is a hurting heart. Our families need to be taught HOW to belong to Jesus. Families often rush into church to feel like they did there “Jesus due-diligence.” Families outside the church aren’t thinking about why they aren’t there. They have other things to do. Whether they have been hearing about them their whole lives, or He is a new relationship, they have been told the only person you can really trust is yourself.
We begin with approaching ministry entirely the way that Christ did: Relationships. In a world full of distant interactions in social media and texting this can seem daunting. Sending a wave and a smile at church is far easier. Yet, all Christ did was purposeful, focused, and with the attitude of grafting others into his family. Jesus preached to the crowds; He touched the broken; some were healed or set free and followed Him, He spoke into the lives of the 12, plus some other close friends and took a handful aside to go deep. We’ve heard it said that at no point did Christ delineate “ You grew up in the church so you get it, and well, you, you are a tax collector, well you know about them.” I would challenge we don’t treat it this way. We place judgments on both our churched and unchurched families. There is a certain set of expectations of who they are and we are shocked when both act exactly the same way. Yes, our students who have grown up in the church are afforded a foundation of stories and perspective. Yet, just because we hear does not mean we take it to heart. We can no longer decided what a person is thinking for them.
The playing field is more level than we realize. It has nothing to do with whether or not we can relate, or even what we think about a person. Relationships need to be focused on showing up, listening and learning the other person. “What is your greatest point of need?” is a question we all want asked of us. Every life is full of pain, disappointment and suffering. Growing up with a bunch of Christians doesn’t mean that we are void of the world’s scars. Growing up outside the church doesn’t mean we think we are miserable.
This is a generation waiting for us to show up and engage. The time has come to put off excuses, and assumptions. Hurt has oozed its way across town and into our pews. We talk about involving the unchurched like it’s an event, instead of a person. I really don’t think Jesus would simply “tweet” an idea and hope the masses caught on. It simply isn’t the way He modeled it.
What are we doing to engage those inside and outside the pew?