Not everyone in your community will resonate with your church. But someone(s) in your community will.
Your collective expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ, your expression of church, will open the door to God for some people in your community. No, not for everyone, but for someone(s).
There are people in your community who need a church like you.
As I engage congregations of various denominations in many places, the diversity in God’s kingdom is striking.
There are congregations of varying size, shape and color. Our hearts are gladdened by the rich color and texture of God’s church.
So what about your church? How much do you believe your church is part of God’s kingdom rollout plan?
How much are you proactively embracing your identity, your particular expression of the gospel, so that those in your community for whom your church would open doors to God can connect?
In other words, how boldly and confidently are you being the church God is calling you to be, living into your Christian vocation as a congregation?
Exploring the following insights will help you be the church in your community for those who need you.
1. Stop comparing yourselves.
So you are not the megachurch down the street who can (fill in the blank). Do you really want to waste your time focusing on who you are not?
Don’t worry about or criticize “that” church. Some people in your community will find doors open to God through them.
Others need a church like you. Celebrate this. Be large, generous spirits who celebrate the kingdom’s diverse expression. There’s no need to run others down to lift yourselves up (as if that ever worked anyway).
Continue comparing and watch your spirit droop, energy drop and hope fade away. Lay comparing aside and discover God has made you to be who you are so that you can fulfill your purpose.
2. Know thyself, really well. In fact, hyper-focus your identity.
Certainly not everyone in your community will experience God through your church. Recognize and accept this truth.
Clinging to the belief that you are the church for everyone in your community will influence you to become the church for a few because you will lack crispness and identity.
Instead, hyper-focus your identity and your expression of the gospel. This will help open the door for those who need a church like you.
They will be able to recognize you (the church they need) when you engage them, clearly being who you are.
3. Push through the discomfort of clarifying your identity.
Plenty of churches do not clarify their identity, nor embrace their expression of church, because they recognize competing perspectives about who they are. When we embrace our identity, we are clarifying, to state the obvious.
Some disciples among us may not appreciate who we really are. Not clarifying allows us to live with the illusion that we are defined in the eye of the beholder. So, expect some discomfort when you clarify your identity.
What’s our way of expressing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Pushing to answer this question will hyper-focus your congregation, empowering you to proactively be who God is calling you to be.
It’s worth it, for the kingdom’s sake, to push through clarification discomfort.
4. Do a spiritual gut-check.
How excited about your church’s expression of the gospel are you? Would you (or do you) recommend your church as a great way to connect with God?
How much do you believe your community needs your church? How often do you find yourself connecting others to your church?
When your answers to these questions trend positive, your energy will rise as you clarify identity and embrace your faith expression. When your answers trend negative, a whole other set of concerns need to be addressed.
5. Look for those in your community who need your church.
Remember, your church doesn’t open doors to God for everyone, yet it certainly does for someone(s). This is the time to cultivate the eyes to see and ears to hear.
Now that you are clear on identity, embracing your expression of the gospel, go find those people who need your church. Proactively, unreservedly and warmly engage with your community with generous hearts and winsome love.
Your church will help some in your community find the pearl of great price or unearth buried treasure in a field. Living in the way of Jesus is a beautiful and fruitful way to be a church.
Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates. A version of this article first appeared on his personal blog and is used with permission. His writings can also be found on Pinnacle’s blog.
Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates.