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Today I read an interesting article by Doug Murren and Mike Meeks entitled “Preparing Your Church for Evangelism” taken from Leadership Magazine. The following statement jumped right off the page at me.

“A church will fail if it tries to assimilate today’s un-churched person only through events and programs. The effective glue is relationships—friends bringing friends and including them in church life. Research has shown that of ten people who visit a church and stay, nine were brought by a friend.”

Community of Joy has a threefold vision – Honoring God (Reaching Up), Building Lives (Reaching In), and Impacting the World (Reaching Out). We are committed to doing all three, but advancing the Kingdom of God by influencing people toward a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Outreach) is at the heart of our cause.

How we reach out is incredibly important! Traditionally, we’ve had the mindset that our doors are open and anyone who wants to come in is sure welcome. But we’re living in a new day. People aren’t as interested in church related activities as they once were. They’re not as prone to seek out a church on their own and not as likely to stay unless relationships have been forged beforehand.

Murren and Meeks suggest that building relationships with un-churched people must be at the heart of our outreach. In our kind of fragmented world where solid relationships are hard to find, more than ever people need to belong before they are willing to believe. People are still finding answers to their deepest questions through relationship with Jesus Christ, but most often it is through the vehicle of authentic Christian community offered by sincere and earnest followers of Jesus Christ in whom a trust has been established.

At the J-term offered by Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls this past January, Pastor Stan Olsen shared five keys of building relationships with those of us who were there. I pass them on to you.
The Five “I’s” of Building Relationships

  1. Interaction – join a civic organization or a health club, don’t be insulated or isolated from real people living in the real world.
  2. Interest – show genuine interest in them, find out what their interests are.
  3. Investment – put in time, energy, and money – be willing to inconvenience ourselves. Allow it to work both ways. Let people invest in us too.
  4. Influence – when we’ve invested, we’ve earned the right to share with them and impact them for the kingdom.
  5. Impact – the end result of this process. When this process of relationship building is undertaken, there’s nothing disingenuous about inviting a friend to join you in attending an outreach event or an Alpha Course offered by the church.

Why not identify two or three people with whom you could enter into this process, or with whom you are already involved, and begin praying for them, asking God to lead you in cultivating their friendship. -MAJ