One thing that has been impressed on me over and over again in ministry is that very little happens specifically because of what we do. We are well aware that the results of ministry aren’t in our hands. We know that the Lord will choose to save whom he will save, he chooses to grow whom he will grow, he chooses to harden whom he will harden. None of these responses really happen because of anything we do in particular.
But, at the same time, I have noticed quite a lot of things do seem to happen because of what we are. Many of the folks who have found us, or joined us, have come less because of what we are doing and more because of who we are. By which I mean, very few people have converted through evangelistic activities of the church, but quite a few have found us – and were looking specifically for something like us – because of what we are.
We have had a number of people join us because we are committed to reformed, faithful, biblical bible teaching. Some have left prosperity preaching churches, finding the message vacuous and empty, and sought us out because we are committed to preaching and teaching scripture as it really is. Others have moved on from churches where everything feels a bit light and unserious, driven by emotionalism that is devoid of any intellectual clout. Others still have come to us because they see the outreach activities and the efforts to reach out community and are drawn to a church where they can be involved in the great commission. None of these folks have come to us through any one of these things. Most of them have come because of what we are, not specifically what we are doing.
Others may engage with us through various outreach activities. Our first contact with them may be in a dialogue event, a food club or English class. But if they begin coming to the church, it is less because of those things and more because of what they find among us. They aren’t really coming because of the activities per se, they are coming because of what we are.
Others have come to us as asylum seekers. They are not coming specifically because of things that we put on. There may be a little bit of an element that translation into Farsi is part of it. But again, most are drawn in more by what we are. There is a community of Iranian people, there is a multicultural church that is glad to welcome people from different nations, there are other people who are not Iranian who are glad to welcome those who are. They come less because of stuff we do for them and more because of what we are.
Now, of course, what we are effects what we do to some degree. Because we are a multicultural church, we want to reflect and give voice to the different cultures among us where we can. We want people to feel free to express their culture and sing songs from different countries, in different languages, and hear voices from different places. Because we are a bible-teaching church, the Word is pretty central and there are several opportunities to dig deep into the Word. Because we are a church committed to the Great Commission, we naturally do reach out to the community around us. I could go on, but you get the idea. What we are effects what we do.
But I am convinced that people come more because of what we are than what we do. The Lord brings people to us less through specific things we are doing and more because of what we are (I think). Rather, if we’re being honest, because of what he in his sovereignty has made us. Being what we are, the Lord seems to draw people to us.
The lesson I draw from this is to press into what you are. The key to the Christian life is not about trying harder, but living in line with what you are. It seems there is something in that for the church too. Simply pressing into what you are, and being that light on a hill, may well see people drawn to you. It may be the case that if people aren’t being drawn to you it is because what you are is not all that attractive to them. You may want to think about what you are and see if that is what people around you see. But if we press into what we are, I suspect the Lord may bring people to us who are attracted by exactly that.