Out with the Old! In with the Ancient?
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. - Matthew 9:34-36 There is an interesting trend across the world within Churches and mainstream culture. In both business and ministry, people are starting to abandon the old model of “Build it and they will come.” This old model was based off the idea that if you built a great building, business, or program people will be drawn to it, and after they are drawn in you build a relationship with them. Out of this model many “seeker friendly” churches were created, and businesses devoted large portions of their resources to creating a great space and being loud and flashy to attract attention. For many years this model was incredibly effective; malls sprung up across the country, huge churches grew overnight. However, if we look at the trends and research in business and Christianity we will see that people have become disillusioned by this model. They are looking for something more. In the age of technology and social media people don’t have to leave their house to buy what they want. Some don’t leave their house to go to church, they stream church services on their computers or smart phones. Today there is access to “quality” from the comfort of the couch; no longer must you go to the mall or outlet store to get what they want. They no longer must go to church to hear great worship and a great sermon. Not only that, but information is so readily at their fingertips, people no longer want to be spoon-fed information, advertisements, or theology. They can find anything on the vast internet and it is easy to find others who agree with them on social media platforms. To summarize, the old model of “build it and they will come” is losing its effectiveness to draw people in. However, there is a solution to the problem. It is not some new and innovative idea either, it is an ancient model, about 2000 years old. The model is that of Jesus. As stated in Matthew 9:34-36, Jesus WENT. He did not wait for people to come to Him. He did not construct a grand temple, or set up camp in the old temple. He traveled and met people, He went to where the people were and ministered to them. He never would have met and saved the woman at the well (John 4). Zacchaeus would never have hosted Jesus at his home and been changed forever (Luke 19). The list of people who were changed by crossing paths with Jesus is long and we know we only have some of the stories of Jesus’s ministry on earth. If you look around you will see both churches and businesses beginning to implement this model to great effect. At the core of human brokenness there is a tendency to always take the easier path, and today that reveals itself by people relying on the convenience of technology and not engaging personally. But, there is also something else at the core of humanity…. A longing to be pursued, to be loved, to be sought after. Jesus knew this better than anybody, and He knew how to communicate to people who much they were loved. Jesus began implementing this model with His own disciples: “So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” (Luke 9:6) We are also Christ’s disciples and should follow in His footsteps and the footsteps of the first disciples. And there is a pattern that happens when you pursue people; they often start to pursue back. Something I love about MPC is that there is a heart for outreach, ministry, and the pursuit of people. There is a core of flame here at MPC that burns for God and burns to reach the lost. I encourage all of us to pray and put our energy into fanning the flame of this ancient passion TO GO, find, and minister to people. Let the purpose of programs and events be to have opportunities to go find people to invite in and minister to. Let us all take every opportunity to encourage those in our church who follow Christ’s model of ministry, and let us be challenged by their example. I know I am. My final words to you are not mine at all, but Christ’s final words.
“GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Special thanks to the Senior Craftsman: Thank you all for meeting every week to go out into the community and minister to people in need. You are a bright and shining example of the model that Jesus set for us.