Monday, April 10, 2006

Front Door or Side Door?

I just finished reading Ministries of Mercy by Timothy J. Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. I highly recommend the book for a great perspective on reaching out to the needy.

In one of the final chapters of the book he recognizes two categories of outreach that a church can have.

...A front-door church has cetripetal force, drawing non-Christians in by attraction. In a front-door church, the main emphasis is on programs and methods of getting non-Christians to come to worship services. It is after they come that evangelism, follow-up, and nurture can occur.

A "side-door" church, however, has centrifugal force, sending its members out to contact the non-Christians in the community through various ministries. The unbeliever is ministered to and (often) evangelized outside the church services, and only later does the prospect come into the church services for further evangelism and/or nurture and follow-up.

You may know my bent...what is yours?


rick said...

definitely side door but in practice, we see mostly front door ... hey wait a minute, is it possible that the majority coming through the front door aren't really converts at all?

Yep - that's what I'd say ... I bet the majority of them are either church hoppers or they are seeking some entertainment, acceptance, or whatever.

I think our churches are swollen with people that aren't there because they are looking for an encounter with God in community with others.

the hamster said...

people like to chat over beverages. much good gospel work can happen in coffee shops and pubs. especially pubs. many people are in pubs to avoid being somewhere else - like at home with spouse and offspring. and people in pubs are very confessional. they like to chat it up. buy a fella a brew and he'll be your friend for half an hour. on the good Lord's watch, much can happen in half an hour.

Vince said...

interesting...rick and kevin, you both have good thoughts. even though i work in church building most of the real work happens outside the church. i can't think of too many cases where real heart work has been done inside the walls of a church building. even after hearing a powerful proclamation of the Word most people go home to think about it or want to talk about it more on the outside.

so what do we do to be more effective in launching people out the side doors to reach those in need of truth? it seems that people say - i want to spread the good news of Christ but is that really what happens? do you really share Christ with those at the pub? do you really share Christ with others in community when you have the opportunity? that is my problem. i have neighbors all around me that probably don't know the truth but do i know that for sure? no. i am too busy wondering what i can do in my office in the church building to sanctify the saints. yes, that is important but not to the neglect of reaching those who do not know the risen Lord.