Teaching the Centrality of Grace, offering Deep Content, cultivating Broad Appeal, enjoying Regular Celebrations, and being City Positive are all things that we value here at Sojourn. Today I want to speak to one that overlaps with a couple of the others but it does deserve to be addressed specifically.
It is very easy for any church (or any group) to become inward-facing. It is natural to begin thinking about how to make everyone happy or to spend large amounts of money on making everyone comfortable.
Because it is so easy to be all about us, we want to work hard at being intentionally outward-facing. In other words, we want to be non-believer friendly. This identifies a specific aim of having a church that is aware of how someone who is not a Christian experiences us. Here are three examples of how this shows up:
1. We want to continue to grow in serving and loving the poor and marginalized who are within the reach of the church. We offer a phenomenal free clinic here once a year. We mentor elementary kids at Silver Lake Elementary. We also want to do more. How can we minister to the variety of people who live in Meadow Lane (the mobile home park right beside us)? How can we partner with other organizations that assist the homeless and those in poverty? We do not want to be “fat and happy” with all our time and resources being spent on us and our building. We want to be well-aware of and engaged with the needs around us.
2. We want to continue to develop a gospel culture along with our gospel doctrine. This means that what we say we believe about the gospel actually changes the way we live. For example:
· We know that God has welcomed us in Christ (Romans 15:7)…so, we then must welcome others. This means that our Welcome Team is a high priority, but it also means that we are ALL on the Welcome Team. Let’s all have a welcoming eye towards people on Sundays and everyday in-between.
· We know that Christians still sin (Rom. 6-7)…so, we then must own and repent of our hypocrisy and our sin instead of trying to hide it. We are not as good at hiding our sin as we think! The world is watching and our willingness to own and repent of sin makes a huge difference.
· We know that Jesus says that the world will know we are his disciples by our love (John 13:35)…so, we then must actively, truly love each other. We want non-believers to see and experience Christians not as an alienating or judgmental bunch, but as a life-giving community that is rooted in love, and that possesses a quality of life that is beautiful, because God is beautiful.
3. We want our church services to be as accessible as possible for a non-Christian. There will likely be parts that will not click no matter how much we try, but that should not stop us from having this mindset! We believe that gospel-fueled corporate worship of God is inherently evangelistic (I Cor. 14:23-25).
If we care about the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) then we must care to be outward-facing.