I have shared how I see myself engaging an overchurched culture. What about you? I think there are ways you can do so effectively.
If you are not on a church staff, you have an advantage over those who are: for instance, those of you who have jobs outside of the congregation have special opportunities to penetrate the overchurched culture’s protective shell.
To illustrate, let me take you back to the North Main Church of Christ in Winters, Texas–where I preached for seven years. I never saw a congregation where such a high percentage of members sought to take the presence of Jesus to the workplace. One example was found in the field of teaching.
Teachers would minister to their students who lived in dysfunctional families and in poverty. Indeed, North Main’s greatest ministerial legacy arose out of a teacher’s ministry to three children from the same family, who did not have enough to eat.
I remember one mother of children who occasionally attended our church. One weekend, she overdosed on drugs. She was hospitalized in Abilene–40 minutes away. I visited her there and found with her a junior high teacher who was a member of our church. The teacher had stayed the night with that frightened and very sick mother.
Winters was an overchurched community at that time, but let me tell you–it was ministry of members like the teacher, which lent authenticity to their name–Christian.
Had you asked someone in the community about the congregation during that time, you might have received a response like this, “I am not certain about all that they believe, but they sure love people.”
To summarize, here’s what you can do:
· show Christ at work
· serve people at work
· search for opportunities to serve people who are in the extended families of those you impact through your work
This will lend authenticity to your message.
Many people who are overchurched have left their churches because they were disillusioned with people who were in their churches. Observing somebody live a life of Christ-like service often destroys that disillusionment. This in turn will go a long way toward demolishing the hardness of their hearts.