Let’s address two issues that all of us need to think about. These issues are things we have all encountered or, at least, thought about. We run in to them often and just tend to ignore them. We shouldn’t.
Karl Vaters writes: “In my experience, Christians who spend even small amounts of time arguing over fine points of theological trivia seldom have much community or world impact. Such arguments sap our energy, divide the body and alienate people from the core message. Those who quibble over theological and denominational minutiae tend not to be doing much real-world ministry, while those who are doing hands-on ministry don’t have time to bicker.” (Outreach Magazine, January/February 2015, Collaboration, Page 50)
In every church where I minister there is always a number of believers who have their pet topic, a favourite television preacher (and thus their slant on the Kingdom and the Gospel), or a personal understanding of a scriptural issue that is not biblical or well thought out but which they will constantly talk about and, if necessary, fight about (tithing, evangelism, women in ministry….)
My observation is that these people seldom if ever talk to others about Jesus and how He can change a person’s life. These “issues” and “opinions” become their focus and they neglect to “seek and save the lost” as we are all called to do. In fact, I would go further and say that the majority of them are not even actively involved in the life of their local church because they are busy trying to change the church or convince the leadership of the church that they are right and the church / leadership needs to see the truth (as they see it) and change.
It is also my observation that these people are really looking for recognition and a place in leadership although they are missing the character base and people skills needed to be an effective and reproducing leader – not to mention the correct biblical understanding of most issues. And, they remain on the fringe of the flock because they are thinking of leaving due to the supposed non-biblical teachings of the leaders. Of course, pride is the big issue here.
Peyton Jones writes: “The key is getting outside of the building. The four walls of the church building have served in recent decades as a mausoleum to dying churches. A casual reading of the Gospels or the book of Acts will show that most effective ministry in the first century was done outside. When the church rediscovers the secret art of ministry in public space, it will become unstoppable again – and hard to ignore.” (Outreach Magazine, January/February 2015, Connection, Page 80)
It is also my observation that the majority of churches have too many programs that involve much too much of their people’s time. This leaves very little to no free time in which to engage the lost. When the programs and activities of the local church absorbs more than 3 to 5 hours a week of people’s time – there is little spare time left to engage the lost over a coffee or a meal. Life today is seriously hectic and, for most families, there is little time to spare in an average week. When that “little time” is totally absorbed by the events held within the four walls of the local church (prayer meeting, mid-week service, Bible school, training and equipping classes, leadership meetings, Bible study….) then there is little to no effective evangelism taking place. This is true in every nation and culture.
So, we are at a place, I believe, where we need to examine what we are talking about and focused on as well as how we are spending our “spare time.” Hopefully, in this examination we will come to realize that we need to invest time in building relationships with the lost. Not to share a pet topic or doctrine or belief with them; but to share Jesus. And, to build these relationships we need to say “no” to a number of church events (activities within the four walls) and involvements to free up time for the real work of the Christian – seeking and saving the lost as Jesus called all of us to do.