Tens of thousands of pieces of literature. Hundreds of business cards. Thousands of hits on the church website. Result – About three households that attend regularly. Sometimes it makes you wonder. How effective is mass media coverage? Considering the number of mailers I receive (and throw away) the answer seems to be minimal.
And that makes sense in this over-churched area. People see the word “church” and nearly every conceivable image goes through their mind except what a biblically defined church is. They think “traditionalism,” “boring,” “overbearing,” “grandma,” “guilt-trip-to-give-money,” “scandal,” etc. and so on. The last thing most people want to do is walk into a building as a perfect stranger wondering what kind of gimmicks await to hold them captive.
People long for answers – answers to complicated issues in a complicated world spinning in the chaos of sin. One word best describes their plight: broken. Broken relationships, broken families, broken finances, broken hearts, broken bodies, broken minds. And they don’t see walking into another building that claims help people as a viable option anymore. They tried it already.
Church planting today involves so much more than hanging a shingle and inviting people to a service or three. Effective church planting follows the NT model of discipleship, life on life, hour upon hour, building relationships with people 24/7. It’s getting involved with a couple on the brink of divorce. Maintaining a weekly Bible study for months with one person. Staying in contanct day in and day out. Helping people create a semblance of structure in absolutely chaotic lives. Constantly using the phrase, “The Bible says . . .” to address sinful thinking patterns and demonstrate what Christlikeness is all about. Bringing discouraged people back to the richness of redemption in Christ and peace of justification.
And then it’s seeing people come. One by one. Maybe once a month. Maybe every service. But they come – not because of the fancy mailer or snazzy ad, but because someone loved them. Someone actually cared enough to listen. Someone asked about how they were. And kept asking. And didn’t abandon them when they weren’t fine.
By God’s grace, they will do the same thing. And one more person will come for the same reasons.
Church planting is about uncovering the nastiness of guilt and brokenness in people’s lives through loving involvement and telling them that you can point them to the answer – Jesus Christ.
And they will come.