An inwardly focused organization inevitably misses new opportunities and hazards coming from competitors, customers or changes in the culture.John Kotter
Once we reach some level of success in our church or ministry, it’s too easy to sit back and assume we have the answers figured out. We stop looking outward and focus too much on the inward. This inward-looking tendency happens to be best of us causes a whole host of issues, one being a lost sense of urgency.
To build on the success of your ministry so far, or to jump start a new era of effectiveness, one of the best things you can do is start looking outward.
Here are things to look for:
What are people dealing with?
What are the struggles in the community?
What are the big questions around us?
How can you grow a culture of “looking outward” in your church?
How will you reach people not yet connected?
When we think we have all the answers about how to reach people, we stop listening and paying attention to what others are saying. We begin to feel it’s a waste of time. I believe the church has the ultimate answer for hope found in Jesus, but we can learn a ton from others about how to extend hospitality, love people, and engage in the neighborhood. Jump at those chances to partner with others.
Don’t be content, anxious or angry. It’s easy for churches to fall into these categories. We become content with who is already “in” and that’s not of God or the Great Commission. We become anxious about what we will do, if we will survive and how things will work out. Don’t be anxious, but in everything pray! The third thing that happens in churches that we become angry – we’re angry because the world has gotten too busy, that no one will step up, that culture is moving on in spite of us.
As leaders, the best way to engage the congregation to embody of sense of urgency is to win hearts and minds. Facts are important, but in this case, it’s the emotional connection that will increase urgency.
Facts may help move some people, but it will be out of duty and not urgency.
Winning the hearts and minds of people requires a heart-engaging experience. It can be facts wrapped up in new stretching goals, huge dreams and a desire to see lives transformed. Big ideas and stories help arouse determination in the hearts of people.
Take ministry to children, for example. You’re not filling slots, you are helping to shape the future pastors, missionaries, doctors, moms and dads, teachers and business owners who will no doubt shape the world around us. You aren’t just teaching kids in our church, you’re shaping families and homes who need a touch of hope that can come as the heart of a child who is loved. You aren’t just babysitting while young parents get a chance to worship and engage, you’re becoming a holy hero for these children as they treasure up childhood memories of how the church loved, taught them and thought they were important enough to serve. A child will gravitate to the oldest person who will take them seriously.
There are countless other examples, too! Taking a short-term mission trip, serving the community through outreach ministry, inviting someone to share how their lives have been changed by the ministry of the church. The sense of urgency begins with helping your people look outside themselves. An urgency for being an effective church, sharing the hope of Jesus with the world, starting with those right around you!