We made some changes not long after Annette and I became the leaders at Lighthouse. One of the key things we did to change our church culture from one of revival to one of community engagement was we brought about a change to what we all considered to be “spiritual”. We spent the next five years teaching the church that one of the most spiritual things they could do was engage somebody who doesn’t know Christ and personally lead them to the Lord. One of the most spiritual things they could do was to obey God by fulfilling the mission on their lives. And that meant spending more time engaging Monday to Saturday with those who don’t yet know Christ.
That was a difficult journey at first, because going into a non-Christian or secular environment was almost considered sinful. It was not what Christians did back then in that revival culture. So we had to teach people that it’s actually incredibly spiritual to engage with the local community outside the four walls of the church. In fact, it’s exactly what Jesus did. Jesus hardly spent any time in the temple. He spent most of His time outside with people. If it was spiritual enough for Jesus, then it should be spiritual enough for us!
I tease my church sometimes by saying to them:
“I’m not going to win your friends to the Lord, so stop asking me to. It’s your job to win your work colleague or teammate or even your mother-in-law to the Lord, not mine. God has connected you with the people around you because of your unique personality traits or family relationship or your unique skills in the workplace and in your sports team. I don’t have the same personality or skills or relationships as you, so I wouldn’t have the same connection with the people around you. It’s your responsibility to lead those people to Jesus.”
Over a period of time we as a church began to get it, that God wants us out there engaging with people who don’t yet know Him during the week and He wants us gathering together on Sundays. It’s not an either/or option. God doesn’t want us either engaging with the community or meeting together on Sundays. He wants us doing both.
Sundays are still vital to the church. It’s where we can refuel for the week ahead. It’s where we come together as a family of believers to worship God and encourage one another. It’s where we can become equipped for community transformation.