Who makes up your church? Who are your up and coming leaders? Generally speaking, evangelical churches are filled with accountants, teachers, engineers and health professionals. They are the ones typically being set up as future leaders in our churches. That’s great, but where are the plumbers, beauticians, truck drivers and receptionists? How many everyday people are your up and coming leaders in church?
The reality is evangelicals are struggling to reach people from all walks of life. We can do better at reaching everyday – read blue collar – people. How? What can we easily start doing to better reach everyday people? Let’s thrash out a few things—some real practicalities that impact our core business of getting into the Bible with people.
Location, Location, Location!
Before you even get into the Bible, think about where you’re going to meet. Where’s your default spot for a one-to-one? Where’s your go to location for a group bible study? Of course the location depends on the time of day, but the guiding principle is, where you meet sets a vibe for when you meet. The people I’m getting into the bible with love the outdoors. Some of the best bible discussions we’ve had have been sitting around the fire, choking on smoke, burning snags & getting into the Bible … gold. For my guys, that’s the sort of place they’re most comfortable. In that setting, they’re happy to talk. To engage. To think about God’s word. Sitting in a coffee shop wearing a high-viz work shirt just doesn’t cut it! We can do better at reaching everyday people by knowing that where you meet sets a vibe for when you meet.
Tell me the Old, Old Story.
Once you’ve set up where you’ll meet up, how do we get people who aren’t normally book people, to engage with God’s book? A great place to start is by getting into narratives. The parables of Jesus are awesome for this. Why? The parables are earthy. Punchy. Memorable. Everyday people are concrete and relational thinkers, which means the stories are easy to visualise and relate to. Let me unpack how that shapes our teaching of the gospel. If I was teaching on justification by faith from say Romans 3:21-26, we’d also look at the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14. Why do that? The parable helps me see the truth of justification by faith. Another example would be teaching on the divinity of Jesus from Col 1:15-20 and looking at the account of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41. Again, the account in Mark 4 gives legs to the teaching in Colossians 1. For everyday, concrete and relational thinkers, the narratives are helpful in bringing to life the truths of the gospel. They help me see it. They help me remember it. They help me explain it to others. We can do better at reaching everyday people by getting into narratives together.
Logic on Fire.
One more point to keep in mind is being a concrete and relational thinker is to be a logical thinker. How’s that make a difference when we’re getting into the Bible? It means we’ve got to work hard to break down the steps and show the process. Being a concrete and relational thinker means if I can’t see what you’re saying from the text – I can’t get it. So as you work through a passage, work the logic. If you step off the text to make a point, be transparent, say that’s what you’re doing.
There’s lots of things we can do to better reach everyday people – this is just scratching the surface! If you’re interested in tapping into this area some more, there’s a one day conference all about reaching everyday people: Wednesday, MAY 10, 2017, MBM Rooty Hill, 8:30AM – 4PM.
Check out reachingeverydaypeople.com.au for info and registration details.
Photos: Dan Hankins, Calvin Smith (inset); flickr