There is often a heated discussion surrounding whether church should be primarily focused on helping those in need or reaching the lost.
In other words: Mission v. Evangelism.
I’ve read countless books that emphasize one over the other (mostly on missions – that seems to be the trend).
These books will conclude: In order to be a true church of Jesus Christ, the church must focused primarily on helping those in need.
Frankly, both are true. Both are needed. And both must be emphasized.
In order to help those in need, there must be an intentional effort made by church leadership to provide resources, money, and materials to organizations who help the poor and the needy. Mission trips must be organized. Mission outreach must be a focus right there within the community.
Here’s where I want to provide a challenge to the Lutheran church at large: You do a phenomenal job of helping the poor; You do an AWFUL job of reaching the lost.
Time and time again I see specifically Lutheran churches failing to provide any sort of relevant worship experience (and not relevant in their eyes – but actually relevant in the culture’s eyes). In order to reach the lost, you’ve got to do church that makes it attractive for a non-Christian. Throwing together a crappy band playing music out of the 1980s doesn’t do the trick.
I also see almost a defeatist mentality in many of these Lutheran churches. It’s as if “reaching the lost” is sort of a secondary issue. Instead, it is the Gospel commission! I love this quote: “The poorest among us are those who will spend an eternity far from God.”
It is true we must provide resources to the poor and the needy; this is without question a specific command from Christ to love those in need. However, the poorest aren’t those who are physically poor; they are those who will spend eternity apart from God!
If you are doing things to “reach the lost” half-heartedly or poorly, you will do more damage than good.
Here’s a challenge to Lutheran and other denominational churches across the country: Provide a relevant worship experience and a phenomenal children’s ministry. Don’t do it half-heartedly. Don’t throw together an ear-piercing worship team. Don’t use technology poorly. Don’t play Lord I Lift Your Name On High every week (or ever).
It’s time to change. Please. For the sake of the “poorest.”