Video Transcript (slightly edited)

As church members, we’re called to reach out to our communities with the gospel in word and deed through two common approaches or styles: Gathering and Scattering.

  • The first style focuses mostly on gathering people into the church through proclaiming the Word in evangelism.
  • The second style focuses mostly on scattering people out of the church through serving the poor in acts of mercy.

Both styles are needed. But one of the biggest mistakes church leaders make is failing to understand which of these outreach styles is the best “fit” for their church’s unique giftedness and the specific needs of their community.

For the sake of illustration, the styles of Evangelism and Mercy are being combined here into one topic category called Outreach Styles. We can think of it in terms of Word and Deed, Evangelism and Mercy. There are two major dimensions when considering Outreach Styles that are sometimes seen in opposition to one another, but can really be complementary and have a part to play in Outreach efforts across cultures.

As stated above, the first is the Gathering or Attractional outreach styles, which are focused on drawing people in. The other is Scattering outreach styles, which are focused on going out to where people are in need.

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Outreach styles of a church in a particular community are normally more effective with one than the other. Some communities are more receptive to an attractional or a drawing-in kind of dynamic, like a worship service that attracts people as a way of reaching out. Other contexts and cultures are more receptive to Christians initiating and moving toward them in purposeful acts of evangelism and mercy. Most often, a healthy church needs to have both of these styles or dynamic in play. Which one is more dominant is actually determined by the context, by the culture, even by the generation. So what are some examples of each? First let’s look at the Attractional model:

Gathering Outreach Styles

The Front Door Attraction (Worship Service).
Having Attractional Worship Services means you’ll need to focus more on these dynamics:

  • Culturally relevant, meaning that it communicates to the ministry focus group clearly and powerfully
  • Seeker sensitive, meaning that it is uniquely tuned to communicate to unbelievers
  • Homogeneous in purpose and style, meaning that it is focused on one dominant expression from that culture
  • Yet, also receptive to various groups and individuals in your Ministry Focus Group—meaning that it is not so focused on one dominant culture expression that others feel unnecessarily like outsiders.

This Attraction Worship Service goes hand in hand with Attractional Outreach Methods.

The Front Door Outreach Methods.
There’s usually some variety in this, but it will largely include:

  • Word-of-mouth referrals by members and people who have come to the church to others, sparking and interest
  • Personal invitations by members to neighbors, friends, and family to join them for worship
  • High visibility events that enable you to address needs and interest inside the church walls
  • And advertising that will reach the receptive – e.g., sometimes use of social media, visitation, newspaper, radio, yellow pages, etc.

We need to also consider the other Outreach dimension.

Scattering Outreach Styles

The Side Door Attractions (NOT a Worship Service).
Where the attractional worship model was geared toward bringing people to the worship service, which was uniquely tuned to communicate to them as unbelievers, the missional styles, while not overlooking being culturally relevant and welcoming, normally gear more toward
:

  • Personal relationships (one-on-one evangelism
  • Open small groups – empty chair approach
  • Nurture/Growth/Discipleship Groups (cell groups)
  • Task/Ministry Groups – Evangelistic Bible studies, felt-need ministries, clubs, training classes, etc.
  • Support/Recovery Groups – chemical dependency, divorce, grief, etc.

Community Outreach Events.
The Missional dimension could also include other aspects more explicitly geared toward the needs of those outside of the church, such as:

  • Outreach breakfasts, luncheons, dinners with special speakers
  • Felt-need seminars – parenting, divorce, finances, etc.
  • Feeding the poor
  • Job training programs
  • Health clinics

Whichever dimension more effectively reaches your ministry focus group will vary, though church leaders should thoughtfully consider a mixed approach that will both attract and seek out. Developing ministry styles for your church is a process that should never end.

The battle cry of the Protestant Reformers was “Semper Reformanda!”, which means “Always Reforming”.

If a church stops regularly examining its culture and properly adapting ministry styles and methods accordingly, it will inevitably become a culture unto itself. Soon the church will only be relevant to a culture that doesn’t exist anymore. Instead the church must be regularly asking the question we used at the beginning of this session, “How does the church do ministry in this culture?” Never forget, you must become a life-long, in-depth student of three things if you are to be effective in church planting: The Gospel, your Church (including you), 
and the Culture where you serve.

When these three areas are properly understood and converge in ministry, the result can be transformation of both people and society.

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Registration closes November 15

We help underserved church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.

 

Video 6: Determining Your Outreach Styles

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As church members, we’re called to reach out to our communities with the gospel in word and deed through two common approaches or styles: Gathering and Scattering.

  • The first style focuses mostly on gathering people into the church through proclaiming the Word in evangelism.
  • The second style focuses mostly on scattering people out of the church through serving the poor in acts of mercy.

Both styles are needed. But one of the biggest mistakes church leaders make is failing to understand which of these outreach styles is the best “fit” for their church’s unique giftedness and the specific needs of their community.

One of the biggest mistakes church leaders make is failing to understand which of these outreach styles is the best “fit” for their church’s unique giftedness and the specific needs of their community.

In this 6-part series you’ll be equipped to:

      • Recognize the risks in adapting ministry styles
      • Describe the dynamics of under and over-adapting
      • Define worship emphases, elements, and models
      • Identify learning models, styles, and principles
      • Explain fellowship celebrations, congregations, and cells
      • Analyze outreach gathering and scattering styles

This brief video (6:51) will help you determine which outreach styles best fit you, your church, and your community.

Preview New Course on Ministry Styles Today!

Registration closes November 15

We help underserved church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.

 

 

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Francis Schaeffer called the love Christians have for each other “the final apologetic.” Whether you realize it or not, you have a structure for fellowship in your church. And building authentic Christian community depends significantly on the effectiveness of that structure.

Video Transcript (slightly edited)

We focus now on the concept of determining your fellowship styles. Building authentic Christian community depends significantly on the fellowship styles and structures you utilize in the church.

 Whether you realize it or not, you actually have a structure for fellowship in your church.

The first circle is Celebration.

First is the model proposed by Peter Wagner with three concentric circles. Wagner would say the big circle, that’s unlimited in size, is Celebration. That’s when people gather together for worship.

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The next circle down is Congregation.

Sociologists, studying human beings, have learned that there are only so many people that you actually have the human capacity to significantly know and have a relationship with. Meaning, to know their name, to know their children’s names, to know anything about their lives. You have a capacity. You actually maxed out at a certain level of people. Normally it’s around 60 to 80 people. This concept of congregation maxes out at that level.

Finally, we have the Cell.

Usually, sociologically, we learned that the minimum is about six and the maximum is about 16. So you can see when you define cell as 6 to 16 then you define a congregation as 20 to 80. Then celebration is unlimited. 

A lot of congregations for an extended period of time have seen their worship service and then they have the congregation- all types of different forms. And they have their cell, which of their small group, like a small group ministry.

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Now, the next circle removes the cell and only celebration and congregation remain. No cell.

Now this is the model that has actually developed the second largest Protestant denomination in the world. They’ve used this structure to actually build the largest denomination in North America – the Southern Baptist.

But notice the structure. What was this structure? Some of you may have Southern Baptist background and you may know it.

What was the congregation? The congregation was the Sunday school class. And the secret was to actually form the congregations or the Sunday school classes like mini churches around the age of the wife, if they’re married. That’s a very interesting dynamic.

And so if they’re couples, it’s the wife’s age that would determine the homogeneity of the group. And what happened was each Sunday school class had its officers and there was a president of the class and there was a person in charge of meals if you got sick or someone died. And there was a person in charge of social time, and there’s someone whose going to help with the visitation of the hospital. These were like many mini churches within the church. This was one of the secrets to the growth of the Southern Baptist church. Little tiny churches called Sunday school.

Now our third model is used by the largest church in the world, in Seoul Korea.

And this model says, “we’re not going to mess with the congregation circle. We’re going to have the celebration, and it’s unlimited, hundreds of thousands, millions can come, and the cell. Celebration, in other words, massive worship service. And then the other thing we do, in terms of meeting needs, we meet in cells.”

A fourth model would be the congregation cell.

These are called “cell churches” where it’s just a congregation and there are small groups within that. Those are small, healthy, growing reproducing churches.

And then some would advocate a fifth model—the Cell church.

Actually just the cell is called the house church. And that’s just 6 to 16 people. I don’t think this meets the biblical definition of a church.  I promote the concept of cell churches but not house churches because a cell church can have all the dynamic of the house church but it is a cluster of churches that are in a congregation that actually has elders that are overseeing the movement. So it looks a lot like house churches but it’s a congregation, it’s a cluster of cells overseen by elders and served by deacons. I think it’s a revolutionary model and it’s one that God has used a whole lot all over the world.

Sign Up for the Shaping Ministry Styles Course!

Registration closes October 15

We help underserved church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.