We’ve been unpacking some lessons learned from planting a church within the Disney (World) employees by Steven Barr, the founder of “Cast Member Church”. You can read the entire article here: Five Lessons Learned From a Church Embedded in The Walt Disney Company – Fresh Expressions
So far we’ve looks at four lessons, (1) Plant Jesus, (2) Prioritize Intercessory Prayer, (3) Change Your Metrics, and (4) Stop Labeling People. This week, I want to address the fifth lesson, “Focus on Mission.”
For many years, the best in church growth thinking aimed toward marketing, or selling the church to the public at large. So it included advertising, PR campaigns, big events and lots of publicity. Churches were turned into shopping malls so that people could come and have all of the Sunday morning (or Saturday night) needs met, including food courts! Television, radio, billboards, internet and old fashioned flyers shouted “Come to our church!” in hopes of garnering some response. Big churches are better at this than smaller churches, because they could offer much more in the way of programs to attract people.
But what we’ve found in recent years is that church marketing only really reaches those who are already Christians and simply want to find a church that offers “more.” More for their children, their youth, men, and women. Non-Christians don’t trust church marketing; they see it more like infomercials and political advertising! If our goal is to draw consumer Christians away from other churches, than church marketing is the way to go. But if our goal is to introduce new believers to a life of faith in Jesus Christ, we need to take a different approach.
Our mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” What we need to focus on is this very thing. You see, we’ve confused “getting people into the church” with “making disciples of Jesus Christ.” The two and not the same thing. One MAY follow the other, but the most likely following is to first make disciples, and then bring them into the church. So we need to fine tune our ways of leading people into faith in Jesus Christ. That is our mission. And if we want to grow, we need to focus on our mission.
That’s why we put such great emphasis on Life Groups and Discipleship Groups. These small accountability groups are excellent ways to help pre-believers become full fledged believers in Jesus! Believers sharing their struggles with living out the Christian life is a refreshing thing for pre-believers to see and experience. They are more used to seeing Christians who claim to have everything “together” and needing nothing. But we all know that following Jesus has its ups and downs. Being real about that is a powerful witness.
And look for opportunities to invite someone to consider following Jesus in their life. You never know when an opening may come and someone is ready to give their life to the Lord! That is YOUR mission!