Sunday, June 12, 2011

Purpose Driven: Thinking Out Loud (so to speak)

In Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, he identifies five purposes of the church: worship, discipleship, ministry, fellowship and evangelism.

I was thinking of these purposes and how they fit into our local church (Hopedale Baptist) in particular and most churches, in general.  I found that we (Hopedale) are doing three of the five well (worship, discipleship, fellowship), one that we're working on (ministry) and one that seems to have been set aside (evangelism).

Let me say a few things about my observations:
I make these statements looking at the church addressing each of these purposes corporately.

We worship well as a church body.  I really love the spirit of worship that is found at my church.  I know that our Heritage service is not for everybody and I know that some don't care for the music of the Neos service.  I am at both services on most Sundays (that I'm home) and really enjoy both of them.

Our Adult Bible Study programs on Sunday morning and Wednesday night are designed to help a person develop and grow in their Christian knowledge and faith.  Our AWANA program, Sunday School and Children's Church are teaching our kids about the Bible and the Christian way of life. I think that as a body, we are doing discipleship well.

When it comes to fellowship--well, I just like hanging out with my Hopedale friends. Large groups, small groups, or individuals; I really like being with these people.  Sure, we could do more in promoting 'out of church' get togethers, but the times that we are together for fun are ... well, fun.

I think that we are really beginning to develop into a ministry minded church.  I see evidence of our looking outward towards people in need more every day. This pleases me.  And I believe that it pleases God, too!

Corporately, we are working on these four of the five purposes quite well.

However, (with the exception of AWANA) we are doing little in the way of corporate evangelism.  For the most part, we seem happy to leave that to the paid staff; the clergy; the professionals.  While individuals develop relationships with non-believers, we rarely take it to the point of sharing our faith and often feel ill equipped to do so.  I think that we were really working on good corporate evangelism several years ago when we were using FAITH.  We were encouraging, teaching and providing the opportunity for many members to tell others about their faith in God.  But, like most 'programs', it ran it's course, got old, and was replaced by something newer and less effective.

What would it look like if a church was to be purposeful about corporate evangelism?  How would you go about encouraging every believer to tell the story of God's great love and saving grace?
I know that we say that's what we do--encourage individuals to share their faith. But what if we got serious about it and really encouraged, equipped and helped them to share their faith?  What if we quit using worship as a tool for evangelism (you know that's what we do) and just let it be worship, but used everything else (discipleship, ministry, fellowship) as tools for evangelism?

What if we became purposeful about evangelism?

John <><

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