What I now believe about guests at our church
I used to believe that I needed to "sell" church to new people.
I believed that I needed to continually speak of the advantages of being part of a church, the benefits of spiritual community, a connection to their ultimate purpose, and more. Though true, I think focusing so much on these advantages distorted my thinking about our guests. By focusing on only one dimension of this new relationship with people coming to our church, I came to believe that...
- They needed us more than we need them
- We were very beneficial to their lives, more than their lives were beneficial to us
- The advantages of church were all theirs to experience.
- If they didn't connect, their loss.
In The 2:47 Factor, I shared about a new insight on Acts 2:47 that cemented the new shift in my thinking:
"...and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." -Acts 2:47
I saw that the Greek word translated "added" here was a word that we get our English word "prosthesis" from. It could be translated literally as, "set to the advantage of", just like a prosthetic limb or organ would be to a body that needed it.
Picture that: If you lacked a leg and were limited profoundly by that reality, a prosthetic one "set to the advantage of" your body would enable you to walk, even run, where that would be impossible before. If you lacked a hand, one could be "set to the advantage of" your arm to grasp things that you needed or wanted that you might need to wait on or depend on others to bring you. If you needed a heart transplant (something I now know is considered "prosthetic"), one could be placed in your chest to the advantage of your body, its organs, and your continued well-being and life.
That is what a person who God is adding to your church is. They are being set to the advantage of us.
I shared this once with a person new to our church, going through our First Step Experience course. Our response caught me off guard. She said, "I don't know if I can see how God brought me to Eastside as an advantage to it. All I can see is this church is a huge advantage to me. How can my story or gifts be an advantage to the church family? Really?" That impacted me as a spiritual leader. Have we so driven home the advantage we believe we are to the lives of people God is adding to us that they cannot easily fathom how they are the advantage we need? Have we so focused on what a blessing we see ourselves as that we have eclipsed our vision of them as the blessing we need?
My beliefs about those God is adding to our church have shifted toward these:
- We need them every bit as much as they need us
- Their lives are very beneficial to us, sometimes more than we are to theirs.
- The advantage of their addition to our body is ours to experience
- If they don't connect, we lose the ability to do something, to be something.
In other words, they enable us to do and to be something we could not do without them. They extend our reach as the body of Christ.
A body rejects a transplant at its own peril. Join me in connecting well the new people God is adding to our churches, even as their potential is being realized.
Our church's potential is being realized through them as well.
- How does your church look at new people predominantly?
- as vistors?
- as guests?
- as nuisances?
- as commodities?
- as advantages?
- as resources?
- as extensions?
- What is the most pervading message they get at your church
- from the pulpit?
- from your Membership Class?
- from your printed material?
- from social media?
- from your staff and volunteer leaders?
- What shift in belief about new people needs to take place to experience those God is adding to your church in the way God intends?
- What is the first step you need to take to make that shift in you, your team, the staff, the church?