Why “Insiders” Are Killing Your Church

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If the problem is not strategy, theology or leadership, why aren't we reaching the lost?

Let’s cut to the chase on something.

Almost everybody who follows Christ, and almost every gathering of those Christ-followers constituting a church, says the same thing:

“We want to reach the world for Christ.”

Yet, most don’t.

So where’s the breakdown?

It’s not strategy. There are vast numbers of churches who are successfully penetrating the culture of the “nones,” growing through conversion growth, and who willingly offer their tried and true strategies to any and all who wish to learn.

It’s not theology. As mentioned, almost every Christian church would have evangelism as part of their core values and integral to their mission statement.

It’s not the new generation of leadership. Most young leaders got into the game to see a lost world won to Christ. They are sold out and ready to rock.

It’s not the new generation of Christians. If you want to meet an evangelistic animal, spend time with a new believer. They are, in the best sense of the word, shameless with enthusiasm.

So what is the problem?

Jesus knew.

When challenged about His own missional emphasis toward those on the outside of faith, He responded: “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what the Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders'” (Matthew 9:12-13, Msg).

The problem? Seemingly, long-term “insiders.”

Countless numbers of leaders and members of churches have given in to a Christian consumerism. They embrace a mentality that gives ample rhetorical support to evangelistic intent but resists violently at the point of implementation because—at the point of actually “doing” it—it “costs” them.

In other words, scratch the surface of a sacrificial, pick-up-your-cross, to die is gain, eat my flesh and drink my blood, Christian …

… and you have an it’s-all-about-me, spiritually narcissistic, turned-inward, meet my needs, feed me, consumer.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s listen in:

“Of course I want to reach lost people,”

… but I’m not going to see us change the music.

James Emery White James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

More from James Emery White or visit James Emery at http://www.churchandculture.org/

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