Comeback churches gained a new sense of purpose. It is a temptation that is common to all pastors, people, and churches (1 Cor. 10:13). The church begins with a vibrant vision and an outward focus toward reaching the community for Christ, but then a subtle shift begins to happen. The church’s focus turns inward instead of outward. The church would declare on paper that it is concerned about the community, but by the way the church invests its finances, efforts and time, an objective observer would conclude that the church is more interested in maintenance and not mission. The goal switches from meeting the needs of those outside of Christ to asking what’s in it for the average person already attending—how can we keep them happy and coming. This natural tendency to slide toward a “me focus” instead of a mission focus is why churches need to have an intentional strategy to help with the God-ordained command for outreach. “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation’” (Mark 16:15).
What will it take to build an ongoing strategy to keep the fire for outreach stoked? Paul told Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6-7 NIV). How can you and your church stay on the missional edge of church life and be relevant in reaching out to the people in the communities where you live? Let us share a few thoughts with you on some vital things to keep in mind as God leads you in planning for the bright, hopeful future He has in mind for you and your church.
Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned around and Yours Can, Too (Nashville: B&H, 2007).