THE RESPONSE TO THE NEED
Good News Gathering was born in the spring of 1998 as a response to the need for a mission-oriented church in Highland County. Over the years it has grown from its first service attendance of 60. The number of people involved in ministry has grown to over 65% of our regular attendees.
- THE GUIDING PHILOSOPHY
So how do you construct a mission-oriented church? There are at least three requirements for building a church for the un-churched and de-churched (seekers):
- Begin by attempting to view what we do from the perspective of a seeker. For example:
- Did you know that most seekers decide whether or not they will come back before the Sunday morning service ever starts? Their first impression is formed in the parking lot and by the way they are greeted.
- Did you know that seekers want to sit in the back and on the aisles? Why? Because if they don't like what's going on, they want to be able to exit easily. But where do many of the regular attendees sit? That's right - in the back and on the aisles.
- Did you know that most seekers don't like to sing, but they expect the worship band to sound like the band on The Tonight Show?
- Did you know that most seekers couldn't care less about Old Testament history or the Hebrew derivation of Biblical terms? They want practical help with their daily lives.
- Did you know that most seekers are uncomfortable with unpredictability in the worship service? They prefer order, i.e. to know what's coming. Elements that add uncertainty to a worship service tend to be unnerving for newcomers, e.g. altar calls, open microphone prayer and praise times, and speaking in tongues.
- Did you know that most seekers do not appreciate being singled out? Psychologists tell us that one of the greatest fears is public speaking. So we don't ask visitors to "stand up and tell us your name" and we don't put badges on them that single them out as a visitor. They want to feel welcomed without being put on the spot.
- Commit a significant portion of the church's energy, money, time and personnel away from the care and upkeep of the already saved.
- We must give each member the tools needed for spiritual growth and then turn them into ministers. We cannot allow the saved to become the served. We are saved to serve.
- An outreach-oriented church is costly for the saved. Why? Because it takes time for seekers to turn into committed members, ministers and financial supporters.
- Designing worship gatherings and bridge events to attract seekers requires high levels of time and a commitment to excellence.
- Structure for growth
- Most churches are structured in such a way that they can never grow beyond 125. They have a paid pastor/minister and the members expect him to do all of the ministry: sermons, visitation, counseling, planning. It is impossible for one person to meet the needs of that many people. Thus, the church ceases to grow at the limit of the pastor's stamina.
- By turning every member into a minister and decentralizing leadership the potential for growth is limitless. The ministry of the church is not dependent upon one superstar.
In order for GNG to reach a significant portion of the lost people in Highland County, greater levels of leadership, commitment and adaptability will be required. The cost in terms of energy, money and time will be great. But as General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "There are no victories at bargain prices." There is nothing more eternally significant than being involved in a church that is dedicated to Christ's desire "to seek and to save the lost."
- Things To Consider:
- If you are not a Christian, re-read paragraph 1, a-f above. Do these statements accurately reflect your perception about church? If there is something you think GNG could do or improve in order to be more inviting to seekers, would you e-mail your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org? We appreciate your input.
- If you are a Christian, re-read paragraph 2, a-c. How do you feel about attending a church that commits a significant portion of its energy, money and time toward people far from God? How do you feel about the statement, "An outreach-oriented church is costly for the saved?" Are you willing, as a believer, to sacrifice for seekers?