In a recent blog post by Thom Rainer, he identified the single most significant factor that causes decline in church membership and attendance. Do you know what it is? It is an inward focus. When all of your attention is on keeping one another happy and satisfied, your class or group will decline. How do you continue to focus on the needs of the group but also focus outwardly on the people in your community? Is it possible to have both? The answer is YES, but it takes leadership.
During an average week, how much time is spent focused on meeting the needs of the group? Now, how much time and energy is your class or group focused on those in your community who are not YET part of your group? Might I make a few suggestions of how to begin to focus outwardly?
- Pray weekly for the lost (by name) in your community and their needs.
- Pray for and plan for opportunities to connect with prospects or conduct a project in the community to meet ministry needs.
- Be intentional about connecting relationally with the unchurched and or lost in your own neighborhoods.
- Regularly invite people you connect with who are outside your group to your weekly time of Bible study, prayer and ministry.
These are just a few ideas of how to begin to focus outwardly in your community. Oddly enough, when you do that, you just might discover you are growing closer together as a group as well.
Sean Keith is the Sunday School specialist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention