Three factors have changed the world in North America greatly. First, North America has become a destination culture. When I was younger, we went to the mall to actually buy something. My grown children go to the mall just to hang out with their friends. Today, malls have game rooms, theaters, ice rinks, and restaurants.
Second, being a highly-mobile society, people no longer shop at neighborhood stores. People “cocoon.” They get away and hide. Consequently, churches located in neighborhoods have about 20-30 years to relocate or die.
Third, America has become a secular nation. The increasing secularization means people do not feel obligated to find and attend a church.
Focus on these issues:
- The world has changed. America is now the third largest mission field in the world (behind China and India).
- The church, in order to be effective, must return to Matthew 28:19-20: “Go, make disciples….” “Y’all come” strategy doesn’t work.
- Your church and its ministries must be visible. If McDonald’s wouldn’t locate there, your church shouldn’t either.
- Your church must be accessible. It should be easy to tell someone how to get there: only one turn from a road everyone knows. It also means your church should provide ease in parking, parking attendants, greeters, and internal signs.
- Your people need to be outward-bound. If they want an unchurched friend to come to their church, they should not invite them but bring them. Likewise, churches should take ministry to the marketplaces.
- Increasingly, churches are developing outreach clusters. These are groups of Christians who, instead of attending church on Sunday in a church building, are meeting in neutral sites in the community. These groups of 20-40 people invite unchurched friends. Watch for this growing phenomenon.
The world has changed. The location for ministry has moved out of the church. It is like letting God out of the box—the church (institution) box. This is most similar to the way it was during the time of the New Testament Church, one of the fastest growth periods of the Christian Movement in all of history!
How has your church improved its location? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.