Posted by: pastortomvabeach | May 20, 2009

Thought for the Week May 24, 2009

What a joy it is to live together in fellowship and service to the Lord our Savior. Last week-end we conducted a video conference called Love and Respect. The conference was designed to help couples enhance their marriages by helping them to learn how to better understand each other’s needs and to decode the expression of those needs when spoken in a foreign language. Did you know men and women speak different languages?

To afford opportunity to couples with children, we offered child care during the conference and one of the providers was my daughter-in-law who, by necessity, brought her children with her. After the last session, we were cleaning up to leave and my grandson came to me to ask if we would do another conference like this next year. He had such a great time being able to spend extra time with his friends from church that he thought it would be a great idea to do it again!

Beloved, our church has a unique personality that is made up, in a large part, of families with children. An older person in the church has remarked to me that one of the great things about our church is the number of children we have around us. Most of our families are fairly stable and growing in their relationship with God, each other, and the church. This is a significant strength and an asset of this fellowship.

The community surrounding our church is also mainly made up of young to middle age families with children, the largest percentage of them having kids under age 18. In surveys of this community we have discovered that God has fashioned our church to be able to serve many of the needs of families in our community precisely because we have the same make-up of families who are working through many of the same needs. What better way to connect with a family with young children than to have another family with kids of similar age who can play together with ours? Or imagine a family whose children are near graduation from high school or just entering college who could build a friendship with a younger family whose kids are just entering elementary school. Is it possible that some wisdom could be passed on that will save that young family a lot of trial and error?

This is the kind of thinking we have pursued as we asked the Lord, “Who should we be reaching out to as a church?” In other words, what group of people in our community should we focus upon as the primary target of our outreach and evangelism efforts? Does that sound strange to you? Didn’t Jesus say, “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” and doesn’t that mean we should evangelize everyone all the time? It does mean that we should never pass up an opportunity to present the Lord to “whoever will” and never limit what God can do. On the other hand, if you never aim at a specific target you run the risk of never hitting any target at all.

As Jesus began to spread the word about the kingdom of heaven, we notice that his first task was to present this message only to the Jews. In fact, in one encounter with a Gentile woman, he said that it was not right to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. In the book of Acts we find that Paul and Barnabas, after being rejected by certain Jews, declared that they would, from that point on, target only the Gentiles with their message (Acts 13:46). In another place, Paul is guided, by the Holy Spirit and by a vision, to go to Macedonia, actually bypassing other areas he traveled through (Acts 16:6-10). In following the Lord’s call and focusing on those to whom God directed him, Paul established a thriving church in Philippi.

Choosing a particular area in which to minister and focusing on a strategic target audience recognizes that not everyone will be attracted to our church. Those most likely to fit here are those whom God has best shaped us to reach. Identifying our target community enables us to focus limited resources (people, time, finances) on those most likely to respond.

Having studied our congregation and the communities surrounding us, the leadership team has determined that the group we are best situated to reach is unchurched families with children, military families, and families that are experiencing difficulties (relational, disciplinary, social, etc.). We have people who can relate very well to this group of people. We are situated in an area that is filled with families, both civilian and military, many of whom face significant issues with which the church could assist.

Our task now is to learn as much as we can about families in our area, to figure out how we can reach out and connect with them, and to create avenues to serve their needs and bring them to Christ. I challenge you, as part of this church, with the mission 2GO NDO, to begin to imagine how we could touch the community around us and reach families with children, military families, and families facing difficulties. Then let us know your creative ideas.

Remember that Jesus said, “Whatever you did to the least of these My brethren, you did to Me.” (Matthew 25:40) As we focus in and begin to serve people around us, we are serving Jesus in the most biblical of ways. How have you served Him lately? Just a thought.

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