About six years ago, we started a "satellite" service in Sequim in an effort to reach out to that community. It didn't work out, as is the fate of many well-intentioned ideas, but out of that group formed a team determined still to minister to the Sequim community. We continued to meet Friday nights for discussion and prayer. During that time, we read a book called The Tangible Kingdom that changed how we viewed home groups, evangelism, and how to do "church".
The concept is rather simple: live the Kingdom life among other lives. Yeah, that didn't really blow your mind, did it? For too long though, the Church has relied on drawing people into our building. We've tried providing music they just can't resist. Sermons that make them feel like they were at home watching an infomercial. Programs for every age. Curriculum from the big names in Christianity. Some, have even stooped so low as to meet in movie theaters.
Yet, we watch the evening (morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and late night) news and see the culture around us tanking. What's their problem? Schools? Government programs? Video games? Fake news? Eh, maybe. God knows the problem is age-old (so you can stop blaming Obama or Bush). People need the Gospel, but they don't need it shoved down their throats. They don't need it on signs at political rallies. They don't need it in an easy-to-read tract. They don't need it preached in a church building where they aren't. They need it lived out right in front of them. The Tangible Kingdom. More than words. Something they can see and participate in.
What this amounts to is us purposing more of our time to be with people so they can witness what it looks like to follow Jesus. They'll be there when God triumphs, heals, and brings hope. They'll also be there when we blow it and have to ask for forgiveness. They'll witness our highs and our humble lows. They'll see that following Jesus isn't just about attending a good Baptist church (though it helps!) or saying a certain prayer. It's a lifestyle. It's not just something good for heaven, it's good for right now. God is real and we know it and we live like it! Our goal is to make sure our lives interact with theirs. Form relationships. Love people.
I believe God has made room for us to do this. Our current ministry schedule is pretty open. What are you doing Monday nights? Nothing at TCC. Tuesdays? Nothing at TCC. Awana? Not here. Youth group? Nope. Our church calendar is pretty empty. Many would see that as a problem. As each ministry shut down the last two years, I must confess I had my doubts that it was a good thing. But, when will we ever have time and energy for people outside the church building, if we spend all our time and energy inside the church building?
Church conflicts won't conflict with us being the Church. So, we can take that time and spend it living out Kingdom values in community. So, feel free to spend time fishing with a co-worker (check with your wife first). Invite a family over for a game night. Open your home for sporting events or the latest episode of The Walking Dead (wait...what?). Join a basketball team. Let your light shine before men (and your 3-pointers, if you can make them). Move the BBQ out front and engage your neighbors when they pass by. Get to know people.
We're not talking about anything new here. This is still about making disciples. We're just changing the venue. I think we need to transform our mindset from trying to get people to come to a church service and instead take the Church to them. Disciple them along the way. I was surprised the first time someone asked me to share the Gospel with them. They asked me. Why? Because they were curious about what made me different. So, I first explained that some of what made me different was due to a loss of brain cells in the 90s, then went on to tell them the Gospel. That the positive differences were because I'd started to follow Christ. He was real and I was convinced I should let Him govern my life.
The Holy Spirit simply used the time hanging out with me to draw their attention to the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God must be witnessed, which means 1) we must follow the teachings of the King of that Kingdom and 2) we must do it in community. Yes, we will continue to worship Christ together as believers, but we will focus our ministry making disciples outside our Sunday service.
Home groups are a natural place for us to start. Firstly, start attending one. Secondly, plan and pray with the group for people to invite and what kind of event to invite them to. This isn't a game night where the prizes are Gospel tracts. This isn't a dinner event where a member of your group will give a Gospel presentation. This is a game night with no other agenda. Let the Spirit lead the conversation. Look for ways to love people extravagantly. Listen to them. Build genuine relationships. Encourage them where you see them displaying Kingdom values. Meet with them outside the home group for coffee. You will be showing them that you're interested in more than getting them to say a prayer or attend a church service. They will see you care about them as people. The way God cares about them. The Gospel and Kingdom of God will become tangible to them.
I'm looking forward to seeing how God works as we move forward with Him. I believe He will give us grace for the exciting challenges ahead.
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
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