As our church celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday, I was reminded of how proud I am to be a part of a church that’s Outward-Focused. Mark McKinney, our executive pastor, talked yesterday about the intentional church we want to be:
One that welcomes anyone. One that you could easily invite a friend to. A place that you could come and ask questions and not get ridiculed for asking them. A place that you could hear and understand God’s Word. A place that captured the curiosity of our culture. And do it in such a way that people would ask the question: Who is this Jesus? We wanted to be a church that even the 140,000 unchurched people within a 7 mile radius could look at DIscovery and believe they can call it home.
Last week, Tony Morgan wrote an blog on Outward vs. Inward Focused Churches. It talks about the benefits and dangers of both. Sure, it’s always got to be both, but if we err on one side, I’d rather be focused on the outside than the inside. That’s why Jesus came, that’s what His ministry on earth was all about. And a church needs to reflect the character and identity of Jesus … after all, we are the body of Jesus Christ.
After working with all those churches, though, this is probably the key distinguishing factor when it comes to the health of the church: It’s whether the church is outward-focused or inward-focused. That issue is always what creates the most tension when it comes to the potential for change.
At the heart of the issue is this basic question: What are we willing to do to reach people outside the church and outside the faith? For some churches I’ve worked with, the answer is just about anything short of sin. For others, it’s just about nothing if it means losing people who already attend the church.