"Are we out to reach people? Or are we out to reach lost people?" This question, asked by Vince Antonucci, grabbed me. I was at Launch Conference, a conference centered around church planting, but actually much more, and Vince was the first speaker. His blog says this about Vince: "I have that typical story, told too many times: Guy grows up in home with Jewish mother and gambling addict father, guy becomes a Christian in college by trying to prove the Bible isn’t true, guy leaves career in law to become a pastor, guy starts church in Virginia Beach that grows from four people to hundreds, guy leaves church in Virginia Beach to move to Las Vegas to start Verve, a church for people who work on and live around the Vegas Strip." You can find his blog here. Looking it over quickly, as I hadn't heard of him before this last weekend, I especially liked this blog post. He is a man who calls us to a higher way of living, without compromise.
The question about whether we are out to reach people or lost people is an important one for churches, and therefore pastors, to ask. I thought it would be good for me to ask this question of myself. Who am I trying to reach? Who are we trying to reach? It's not that people who are already followers of Jesus don't need a place for fellowship and discipleship. That wasn't what he was saying, and certainly not my thoughts either. But there were some startling statistics which he gave. The one which really stood out was this: In no county in America are there more Christians than there were 30 years ago. That's right. Even though there are about 90,000,000 more people living in America, there has been a steady drop of those claiming to be followers of Jesus.
So what is needed for the church is not to search for more people. This often is just people who go from one church to another. Some churches in America are getting larger, while others are dying away. There needs to be something done. That is where the Church comes in. Not a church, by the way, but the Church. We must go out as missionaries into our work places, our communities and into our families and reach the lost, calling them to the Father in the name of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.