Written by Bill Whitt
May 13, 2024

How To Become An Outward-Focused Church

It takes intentional effort to keep a church focused on reaching those outside the faith. Here are 5 ideas to ignite some good discussions.

The gravitational pull of churches will always be toward the wants and needs of insiders. It takes intentional effort to keep a church focused on its mission of reaching those outside the faith.

  • At this year’s Drive Conference, Andy Stanley shared how he has created a church culture that values reaching the lost. I took my ministry staff to the conference this year, and his talk sparked some excellent discussion. In this article, I hope to summarize his main points, apply it to church renewal work, and ignite some good discussions among your staff members, elders, deacons, and lay leaders!
Five Fresh Ideas to Keep A Church On Mission
Idea 1. Assume Outsiders Are In The Room
  • If you expect unchurched guests every Sunday (not just on holidays), you’ll make adjustments accordingly. You’ll talk to them, not about them. Your sermons will acknowledge what they experience in life, building empathy and trust.
Idea 2. Evaluate Everything Through the Eyes and ears of outsiders
  • What do guests see and hear when they arrive? Most people will decide within 12-15 minutes whether they will return, so parking, signage, and greeting are more important than we often think they are!  Your building and grounds should make such a good impression that guests think, “Wow, they were expecting me, and they’re happy I’m here!”
Idea 3. Foster a Culture of invitation
  • Make it clear that you are a church where it is normal for people to invite their unchurched friends to church. North Point encourages their people to use this language: “Come sit with me.” Some Sundays are designed to be good “Come Sit with Me Sundays,” but any week will work!
Idea 4. Employ the “Rules of Engagement”
  • If the goal is establishing a relationship with those outside the faith, it only makes sense that we use a thoughtful approach. North Point calls this their “Rules of Engagement.” That’s why worship gatherings start by creating connection points that set the tone. Next, they inspire people with stories of life change. Finally, they inspire them to take a concrete step during the week.
Idea 5. Celebrate it when you see it
  • What’s rewarded is repeated, so make sure to take note of every time this new culture shows up. Set aside time in staff meetings to celebrate wins. Express gratitude through thank you notes. When people move the mission forward, shout it from the rooftops!

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