The question left me stumped for a moment. After years of church planting I realized that it had been a long time since I had asked myself that question. The question has been for many years, what would the people I am trying to reach like in a church? I have realized that as Christians we tend to create places where we are comfortable. We want our churches to correspond to our likes and dislikes. This is not bad. Feeling at home is a big part of community and community is a vital element to growth as a disciple. Yet this becomes a problem when we want to introduce unreached people to the community. Unconsciously, we have this vain desire to want to draw people to us. We create our communities and our events so that we feel comfortable and then we do all we can to draw people in. I have a lot of unchurched friends and I can’t think of one who would really want to come to my church or one of my church events.
At some point, I began to feel as if there was a deep ditch around my church that no one wanted to cross. So we got to work and we started building bridges. We organized concerts, seminars, family events. Each one looked for some felt need that might draw people onto the bridge and then into our community. It worked a little but mostly with people who already were well on their way to faith. It occurred to me one day that we had built the bridges going in the wrong way. We build them in order to bring people to where we are comfortable. The bridge is supposed to take me out into the world. If in the course of sharing the gospel with a seeking person one of us is uncomfortable, that person should be me. Jesus did not stay in his kingdom but he took on human form (that couldn’t have been comfortable) and came to us. I have to do the same. I have to take the bridge out of my community where I feel good and safe and go into the world where I am the stranger, the foreigner, the missionary. Few of my unchurched friends want to come to one of my church events but almost all of them are thrilled when I go to theirs. So this week I need to look for a bridge out of my safe zone and into the world around me.