The more focused your mission, the bigger the impact. The bigger the impact, the more participation in the church. The more participation going on in the church, the more joy of the Holy Spirit. The more joy of the Holy Spirit, the more areas you engage missionaly. The cycle starts over and the gates of hell cannot prevail.
If your church is looking to revitalize because it's in a real lull, one of the first things you need to do is get on mission, and it needs to be in a single area on which you will whole-heartedly focus.
Churches that have fallen asleep in some way, shape, or form should be careful not to overcorrect and decide to reach the entire city, setting themselves up for burnout or failure. They should also be careful not to stay asleep, blaming the city for not coming to church.
The way to wake up a church is right in the middle, and that is to get on mission but in a focused space.
Your first thought may be “I thought our dreams were to be so big, we needed God to achieve them.” Or “Isn’t our vision supposed to scare us?”
Answer: All mission, even inviting your neighbors to church, takes Holy Spirit help. Additionally, it can be scarier to ask your actual neighbors to come to church than to ask the rest of your entire state.
Focusing on reaching one area is a mission worthwhile and time well spent. As you focus your mission, here are some things to think through:
You should be trying to reach whatever is right around you. We believe in the local church, right? Thus you should be reaching out to your locality. Look within a two-mile radius, find a subdivision, a neighborhood, an apartment complex, and area right by the church where you can dedicate, for a time, 100% of your evangelistic efforts.
At Griggs, the community we have dedicated ourselves to reaching is called Poe Mill. It’s within a one-mile radius of the church. Through researching city-data, we have found that this neighborhood is comprised of 321 houses. This gave us a goal that, to the best of my knowledge, we accomplished last summer - to knock on each door. It feels good to know we’ve taken responsibility for our neighbors in a way we can count.
Cater To Specific Needs
Wherever you go, you’ll likely be able to pick up on a common need. Perhaps you meet a handful of single moms, you may realize a mom’s night out event with free babysitting would be of some help.
For one reason or another, I’ve been able to visit the sick in Poe Mill. I get calls every week from people who do not yet go to our church, asking for me to go see someone they know in the hospital. I meet the need of being present.
Instead of only inviting people to church, invite them to community. Not everyone understands an invitation to church, but nearly everyone understands friendship. Everyone understands free food. Everyone understands bounce houses for the kids. Everyone’s comfortable with the idea of “swing by, leave when you want, we just hope to see you there.”
When Griggs started revitalizing the first thing we did was offer church-wide meals after our evening service and invited the neighborhood out to those. Since then, however, we’ve held other events that were solely designed for the community to see us, and us them. One event, our Fall Family Fun Night, where we had face painting for the kiddos, along with trunk-or-treat, and a Chili dinner, allowed us to gather around 100 folks from the surrounding area.
If you can’t think of anything, start with thinking about kids ministry. Start including events for kids. A missional event for kids can be easily included in any Holiday season.
A quick example would be Easter. This last Easter between our Good Friday and Easter service we threw in an Easter Egg hunt for the kids and provided McDonald's. I know of at least two adults that were invited to our Easter service as a result.
Think of ways to include the kids of your area during Christmas, Easter, Independence day, and Halloween. Make it an annual thing and see what happens.
Just imagine if your church was able to change the culture of a slice of the world over the course of two years, by simply focusing your mission.
Imagine if 10 churches in your city decided to focus their mission, and one could know for sure that at least 10 neighborhoods were fully looked after and cared for. Eventually, the whole city would be claimed by the gospel.
Eventually, your mission will expand itself, as those you have reached, are called by God to go further down the street or across the world. Make no mistake, churches on focused missions not only revitalize themselves, but they are the building blocks of global redemption.
Look through the lens, adjust accordingly, until the people you're called to reach come into focus.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136475015@N03/