Most churches, I’m afraid, are inwardly focused. Turning a church outward is not easy, but these signs are at least hints that the congregation’s heart is moving in the right direction:
- Members talk about non-believers for whom they’re praying—by name. You know their burden is real when it’s tied to a name.
- Small groups begin to seek ways to do ministry within the community. They get outside the walls of their meeting place to make a difference in their city.
- The church offers personal evangelism training—and members actually attend. They look forward to the training because they genuinely want to be prepared to tell the gospel.
- Members talk about changing demographics in the community, and they ask about ways to reach them. That’s much different from the congregation that sees demographic change as a threat and the church as only a place to retreat from change.
- Prayer meetings focus more on non-believers and the unchurched than on church members. They still deal with personal needs, but they’re not the primary focus of the prayers.
- The church approves a budget with significant funding for local outreach. Budget approval doesn’t automatically reveal a burden, but I’ve known a lot of unburdened churches who budget little or nothing for reaching their community.
- The congregation genuinely grieves when they don’t see conversion growth through the church’s efforts. They so long to see people get saved, and they so rejoice when it happens that they weep when it doesn’t.
- More guests are attending the church at the invitation of members. Believers are more likely to invite others when (a) they’re burdened for their community and (b) they believe God is doing something through their church.
- Missions-focused members begin to ask about people groups in their community. They realize that the world’s come to us—and they want to make sure other peoples around them hear the gospel, follow Christ, and then evangelize their own people group.
- The church excitedly, sacrificially, and supportively opens their building for other ethnic groups and church plants to meet there. Members don’t just tolerate other congregations meeting in their building; they actually want their doors to be open. As wise stewards, they maximize the use of their facility in order to reach more of their city.
What other markers would you include?