Even with all its problems, faults, and shortcomings I still believe that the local church is the best tool to help people come to know Christ and to help those who come to know Christ to become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.
Certainly there are other organizations that do a better job of introducing Christ to non-believers than the church. There are some organizations that do a better job of leading people in their discipleship than the local church.
However, I still believe, the local church is best gifted, suited, and designed to do both leading people to Christ and making disciples. Admittedly the churches haven't been doing a very good job of either of these lately, but I want to be a part of a church that's turning that around.
The question is how are people coming in contact with the local church?
Was it the preacher? the programing? a mailing? advertising? a combination of those things?
The American Institute of Church Growth surveyed some 8,000 church attenders to see how they started coming to church. Here's what they found.
- 1-2% were people with special needs and found their needs met at the church
- 2-3% were walk-ins
- 5-6% were influenced by a particular preacher
- 2-3% came because they liked the church programs
- 1-2% came because they responded to a visitation effort
- 4-5% were reached by Sunday School
- .5% came through evangelistic crusades
- A WHOPPING 75-90% CAME THROUGH THE INFLUENCE OF FRIENDS OR RELATIVES
It's not even close. The best way to reach people is through personal invitations from members.
In other words, the most effective and dangerous arsenal against the schemes of the enemy in any community are the members of local churches. We already have everything we need to reach people with the love of Jesus Christ. They are sitting in our churches every week.
The task of leadership is to unleash the incredible latent power for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that's laying dormant in our churches.
Equip and enable our folks in our churches to be the church! Release the people of God to be the minister members they are.