Sometimes I get criticized for the approach I take to ministry. In fact, just this week I heard of someone slandering Jo and I for reaching out to those "kids off the street" and not focusing just on "our own" church kids. Here is one fact that I know and have experienced first hand: When you are willing to do whatever it takes to reach people who are far from God it usually makes religious people uncomfortable. Especially people who believe that the church is all about them. But when I read the Bible, I see that Jesus was most passionate about reaching lost people. Sure he went to a dinner or two. He even made a couple of "hospital visits." But that is not what consumed his life. His life was consumed by reaching those who were far from God. That's who he hung out with. That's who he ate with, and talked to, and was most passionate for. In fact, Jesus himself said that his primary reason for coming to earth was to seek those far from God. Check it out in the Bible in the third chapter of the book of John.
And often people misunderstand a pastor or church leader's focus on reaching others. When they hear someone talk about numbers or be concerned with the number of unchurched people who are coming, they immediately assume that our motivation is wrong. They assume that we are more about numbers than people. But that couldn't be further from the truth. For me, every single number is a name, face, relationship, and person that needs to hear the life-altering love of God. That's why I'm passionate about the numbers.
I am reading Pop Goes The Church by Tim Stevens and he quotes Steven Furtick about this same subject. He puts it in perspective in a way that resonates with me:
"If you get the impression that we're all about the numbers, let me clarify. Of course we're all about the numbers. What else would we be all about? The spaghetti supper? To hell with the spaghetti supper. I want to see some changed lives!"
Here's the deal: God has called me to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to reach those who are far from Him. If that makes people uncomfortable, so be it. Jesus made people uncomfortable from time to time too. I'll take that kind of company...