Beyond the Walls

February 2012

Brick wall

A question that I have been asked far more times than I can remember is ‘how do we reach people outside of church?’

There are three really important things that I always say in response to this, often-asked, question:

  1. This is the wrong question to be asking.Let’s think for a moment about the phrase ‘outside of church’. When we use this phrase we think of people outside of the walls of our building but we often forget that it is us who built the walls. There is only an ‘outside’ because we created an ‘inside’. Most people who don’t come to church are not aware that they don’t come! They are just living their lives and are no more UNchurched than we are UNbingoed! The days when everybody was in some sense ‘churched’ are long gone and we must face this new reality.
  2. Consequently, it is more helpful to view the situation from a different perspective. Rather than thinking of us as ‘inside’ and them (whatever that means) as ‘outside’, we could take our example from Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14 NIV) Jesus came to be among people and he sends each of us to be among the lost people that we come into contact with every day. Most of our lives as Christians is lived beyond the walls that we have built.
  3. The question should therefore be “How do I live my life in such a way that the people I am among every day will want to know what (who) it is that is making me the person I am?” This is about how we live as much as what we say and it provides every church with a great opportunity. What about if we spent the time that we are behind the walls that we built equipping, encouraging, and supporting Christians to be able to live effectively among the people they know. That might change everything!!