Recently finished reading the testimonial book Journeys (Missional Press, 2008). It was challenging and exciting and thought-provoking all at the same time. I’ve been trying to digest the concepts that authors Todd Wright and Marty Duren included in their report of their personal journeys to leading churches to be more effective. Boiling it all down, Wright and Duren suggested that while the church as we know it (expressed locally) has become incapacitated because of a focus on what appeals to the “already-churched”, the remedy to this situation is to do what Jesus would do — touch the lives of those outside the church. As a basis for this adventure in advancement Wright insists that we as the church should get to know our community. Who is living there? What will it take to touch their lives with the gospel of Jesus?

A few months ago I read through Paul Powell’s short advisory book Getting the Lead Out of Leadership (self-published, 1997). In his viewpoint, as Powell went through the necessities facing the local pastor, he shared his own practice whenever arriving on a new field of service. He said that he made it a practice in those early, smaller membership churches, to visit all the homes within the town or village in the first year. In the larger churches, he adapted his practice, but still spent the first year getting to know those who lived in the church’s backyard.

As I looked at these two bits of advice, one centered around ministry happening in 2003-2007, and the other based on memories of ministry from the 1950s, I had a brain spasm. It dawned on me that these two different generations of pastors were basically saying the same thing: “To be effective in kingdom work, the church must know its community, and more specifically the church leaders should know where the people are and what kind of touches effectively reach those without Christ.”

I don’t think that Powell, Wright, or Duren would fall into either of the groups that says, “My way is right, and all others are wrong,” although we have plenty of preachers of all generational stripes that do, but rather, would all encourage us to adopt and adapt that method of ministry that best reaches the community outside the church with the message that the church so desparately needs to broadcast.

My conclusion, get to know your community, and lead the church outside her walls to bring those freezing in the outside cold into the warmth of Christ Jesus. Let’s get over ourselves and start looking to others for a change.

What do you think? Is the church effective? Can she be effective?