June 28, 2006
I performed an informal assessment with a church. I asked them what (if any) threats there were that would keep the church from moving forward. One man responded that he thought the larger churches in their area were a “threat.”
First, I acknowledged that it is true that larger churches can provide some services and ministries that a smaller church is not at the point of doing. For example, in my first church, we had families come that had teenagers. We were a small church plant whose oldest children were in fourth grade at the time. We concluded that we were not going to be able to reach or retain families with teens until our children grew to be teens. I helped those families that visited us who had teens to get into a good church down the street. In this way, that church was a partner, not a threat. We kept those folks for the Kingdom, just not in our building.
But I also asked the group the question, “How many people are there in your county?”
The answer for that group was over 350,000. Studies suggest that over 50% of them probably do not have a meaningful relationship to Jesus Christ. That means that there are perhaps 180,000 people near this church who are pre-Christian and need the Gospel. It is also true that there are likely a significant number of people out of that 180,000 who are similar to the people currently in the church (stage of life, age, background, etc) and would be drawn to become part of their church, if it was clear they could meet the Lord in that place. Therefore, you could fill all the large or mega-churches in that area numerous times and still have tens of thousands of people yet to be reached. Other churches are our teammates, not our competition.
How many people are in YOUR county? Perhaps not as many as in that one, but enough that you have an ample group to reach. The greater question is whether or not your church is a place where the presence of the Lord is evident. A second question: What is your church intentionally doing to reach those who are already connected to you through relationships at work, home, etc.?