Connecting to the Unconnected

One summer we let our two daughters paint their bedrooms. With every brush stroke of royal purple in one room and stripes of navy, orange and lime green in another we questioned our sanity. But we wanted to connect with them, invest in our relationship with them, earn influence with them, so when they needed us there would be an openness to hear what we had to say. And paint color was an easy preference for us to sacrifice for what we would gain.

The Way I See It…

Churches hang on to nonessential preferences and lose touch with how the outsider perceives us. No wonder we don’t have influence with them. The gospel never changes, but methods of connecting with people can change, according to the cultural language and needs. Here are three suggestions to connect with people in today’s culture.

Meet people on their turf – If you wait for people to come to your church building, you are going to wait a long time. Think like a missionary, go where the people hang out. For example, every Saturday, I watch my grandsons play soccer. There are hundreds of families out on the weekends watching their kids play! How can a church intentionally serve a local recreation league, or mom group, golf league, reading club, or quilting guild and begin building friendships with people outside the church?

Give cultural applications in your sermon – The reality is, our church attenders encounter worldly hot topics on a daily basis with neighbors and coworkers. If you aren’t teaching them how to apply the Bible to cultural issues then you are missing out on a golden opportunity. I like to use an illustration every once in a while that is about a popular figure to keep younger people engaged. Know your audience and help them make real life application.

Assume outsiders will visit you – If we are meeting people on their turf, building relationships with them, and inviting them to attend church with us, we will see new people. Be prepared to see new faces every week. Train greeters and anyone who speaks from the stage to assume there are first time guests out in the congregation and they will not be familiar with our insider church lingo (What’s a potluck? Where is the Fellowship Hall?).

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not advocating for an attractional over missional church model. I am saying we mimic our Lord and Savior. He engaged with the outsiders of society. He had conversations with people that were not in the normal religious circles. He wasn’t afraid to paint outside the lines to connect with outsiders. 

I’m sure you could add a few things to the list. How do you lead your church to connect with people outside the walls of the church?

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