By Ronnie Floyd
One of the ever-growing challenges of local church ministry is connecting with people in the community who don’t attend church. For the past 26 years of my life, I have served as the senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark. I can remember when I arrived in the fall of 1986; our small team began conversations about how to connect those who are unconnected from the church.
With the continual increase of lostness in our nation, it is urgent that this conversation remains a high priority for every church. Our team continually discusses this subject. I do not believe anyone is an expert on how to engage and connect with the unchurched in our communities, especially me; however, I want to share with you some actions Cross Church has taken that have helped us meet the challenge of engaging those who don’t know Christ.
1. We have a clear, concise and compelling missional vision: Reaching Northwest Arkansas, America and the world for Jesus Christ.
Our missional vision comes straight from the heart of Acts 1:8. Anyone who has been connected to our church for any length of time will usually be able to articulate it at some level. Why? It is clear. It is concise. It is compelling. It is all about connecting with the unchurched people in our region and beyond.
An action to consider: Ensure your missional vision is clear, concise and compelling enough to mobilize your church to reach people in your community with the gospel.
2. We extend our reach as a multi-site church.
I am not suggesting every church needs to be a multi-site church, but we are one church with four campuses. Without question, we have found we reach more people through multiple campuses than we could through one campus.
A question to ask: What can your church do in order to reach more people in your community?
3. We meet people’s needs through our Compassion Center.
While our church has had extensive compassion ministries for many years, we recently combined most of our efforts through our Compassion Center. Our Compassion Center serves as a life skills center, a job resource center, a ministry center and a re-sale thrift store that focuses on providing clothing and household items. From this hub, we are able to minister to the community more effectively. People have needs. By meeting the needs of others we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to a generation of lost people.
A conversation to have: Discuss with your church what acts of compassion the church could do that would meet felt needs and open the door to connect people in your community to your church and ultimately to Christ.
4. We work hard at communicating biblical and relevant subjects through our groups ministry.
As a pastor, I have never sensed a greater time for our people to become connected to a local church and in a group. Living disconnected, frazzled lives is leading to disastrous lifestyle choices, separated families and little faith that leads to a carnal way of living. People need to be under the teaching of God’s Word through worship services and a weekly group, just as God has instructed.
This is one of the reasons why Cross Church will begin to use the new and updated Bible Studies For Life curriculum in the fall of 2013. LifeWay has designed this curriculum series to specifically address the challenges of daily life. Biblical application is essential for those who are overwhelmed by decisions, distractions and disruptions.
Getting into the Word consistently teaches us how the truths contained in it make our lives different. By offering biblical answers to real life issues, we are confident Bible Studies for Life will help us connect with those who are unconnected from the church.
Consideration: Does your groups ministry use a weekly curriculum that helps meet the spiritual needs of believers and engage unreached people in the community with the gospel?
May God empower your church to connect the unconnected in your community in a more effective way as you seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ.