We need to turn away from a wholly congregational focus and direct our focus intently upon the community in which God’s placed us. We need to become missionaries in the most positive sense of sharing God’s love and Good News. As we care, comfort, heal, empower, and share hospitality, safety, and hope with our neighbors, we will also find new life in our church communities and ourselves. The question is not “How can we get more people to join our church?” but “How can we move beyond our church walls to live with Jesus and serve, love, and learn from God’s people living around us?” Whether we are starting a new church, revitalizing a church, or extending faith communities in new ways, we need to help people belong to community, help people with physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual needs, nurture people in faith, and send them out to love and serve others.
Our church communities need to fully embrace the mission and adventure of reaching the ever-increasing number of non-church yet deeply spiritual people that live all around us. Few will come to church on their own. We are called to leave the comfort of our buildings and practices and journey to meet and serve the majority of people around us who may not have a spiritual home. The process of strengthening relationships is very personal. We would like to have evangelism done for us through some tool or method, but evangelism is nothing less than offering love, building trust, and personally engaging people in the Way; and that requires caring, personal relationships.