I don’t think it’s any secret that we’re at a pivotal point in the history of our church. By God’s grace, Gainsville has ministered to our community for over 90 years as a faithful gospel witness. Other churches have come and gone in that time. Some have lapsed into doctrinal error, even refusing to stand on the inerrant Word of God. Others have undergone tumultuous upheavals and split. But our church has stood fast. Undoubtedly these present days are not times of numeric strength—although numbers are by no means the best or most reliable measure of church health. I do, however, look wistfully at the older pictures that show a church teeming with children and families and long for the same in our future. As we think about our future, I think there are two kinds of churches we could become—only one of which is desirable, and more importantly, biblical. The two options are either the “Come and See” church or the “Go and Do” church.
“Come and See” churches are those whose main ministry happens on the church campus at designated days and times. The community is welcomed and invited to come and behold the church’s preaching, music, programs, and events. Church members often feel that if only those in the community would come for a visit, they would form a connection with the church and, contingent on the Spirit’s work, place their faith in Jesus Christ. The church then grows and prospers as a result.
This way of being God’s church has had success over the past few generations, in large part because many Americans have sensed their need to be involved in a church. Even today many who aren’t active church members will express a need to “get back in church.” But increasingly this way of being a church is ineffective. As Christianity becomes increasingly marginalized in our culture, rather than reaching unbelievers, “Come and See” churches largely attract believers from other churches who are looking for a change of scenery, better/different preaching, music, etc. Of course, the church has been commissioned by Jesus to reach the lost—not the otherwise churched—so tweaking our church to appeal to the preferences of Christians in and outside our church is counterproductive.
The alternative to the “Come and See” church is the “Go and Do” church. This way of being is focused on reaching the lost where they are. Understandably, most of those who don’t know Christ won’t darken the door of a church. And so we must go to them. Sometimes this “going” can be corporate—a church organizes events and activities by which we collectively reach those unbelievers who are in our lives. But more important than this is individual going and doing. This means that each member in the church takes the initiative to build gospel relationships with those who are lost. And this makes sense, right? Your lost coworker/cousin/fishing buddy/friend could probably care less what your preacher has to say about how Jesus changed his life. But they’re likely much more receptive to hear how Jesus has changed your life.
As I’m praying for our church, I’m praying not just for the pastoral search process, but that God will make us a “Go and Do” people, and me a “Go and Do” pastor. I hope you’ll join me in praying this way.