I have talked to churches from all over the country and this question comes up all the time. It happens in different formats, but it is the same question: How do I motivate my church to take action? Maybe the problem is time, maybe it is distance, maybe it is age, or maybe it is just sin. The reasons vary from church to church, but it has always surprised me that the solutions rarely take into consideration the most important and most basic truth.
Your Church Does Not Take Action Because...They Don't Want To
Until you acknowledge this point, no CRM, social media, sermon series or small group curriculum will make a difference. Let me say it again, your church does not serve your city, volunteer for kids, tithe, or take any other action because they don't want to. This is so obvious that we often overlook it. When it comes to local mission, we know that people don't want to serve and so we try to make the serving easier to say yes to. We tell them lots of people will do it as a group, it is just one day, it will be fun. We make the signup process easy and ask very little of them that would make them uncomfortable. Then we cheer and celebrate what a great sacrifice and achievement the day was. Is this really the call Jesus has for His Church? Is this what he is waiting on before he returns? I hope not.
The most important question: Why don't people want to take action?
This applies to many things, but when it comes to local mission, I am more and more convinced that people don't want to serve the poor because they don't actually care about them. Our society has made it easier than ever to live our entire lives without actually seeing or having to engage with the marginalized. As a result, most people can't imagine or empathize in any way with their experience. Because of this, it is almost impossible to care.
The Goal of the Local Missions Leader
Your goal should not be, primarily, to make serving easier. This can be helpful, but only after you have addressed the more important problem: the heart. The Goal of the Local Missions Leader is primarily to help people see and understand the marginalized. Until this happens, no amount of well crafted strategy will lead to mass mobilization. I will get more into how to do this in my next post.