One of our three purposes at Lakeshore is ‘Making’ disciples. Making disciples is about seeing people come to know the Gospel of Jesus and putting their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. We want to think of church as more like a lifeboat than a crusieliner. How do we do this at Lakeshore?
How we make disciples falls under two major headings: 1. Attractional; 2. Missional (sorry for the seemingly academic made up words)
Let me explain what we mean.
This is the idea of the church attracting people to come to them. The primary activity required of individuals is inviting. There are three ways we are ‘attractional’ or three types of activities we want to invite people to.
Events are stand alone meetings or gatherings. For example Sunday church is our primary event we want to be attractional. It is the main event we want to attract people to and invite people to. We expect people to come and hear the Gospel and see the Gospel lived out in the lives of people.
There are other occasional events that are can be ‘connect’ events or events where the Gospel is proclaimed. Our connect events have the purpose of connecting with people in the community who we otherwise wouldn’t have contact with. For example the Parenting Seminar is a connect event where we are serving the community by addressing a need in order to connect with people. The major event where we proclaim the Gospel each year is the Community Carols.
The one main course we run is Simply Christianity. This is a course where the message of the Gospel is explained from the book of Luke over five one hour sessions.
Programmes are attractional events but are regular events often for a particular group of people. So for example Cubbyhouse is a weekly playgroup for parents and their children that runs during the school terms. We have a limited number of these and are slow to start new ones. It is very easy to start a new initiative but is very hard to stop it if it is not fruitful.
In line with our ‘simple’ church approach where we don’t want church life to be busy we limit the number of attractional activities. These require a lot of resources and we recognise no church has the resources to do everything. We try and focus on a few that we can do as best we can and sustain.
This is the idea of the church going to the community. It is where as a church we are challenged, equipped and resourced to live and speak the Gospel in the network of relationships God has placed us in. It is understanding ourselves as ‘missionaries’ in what ever context we are. We are ambassadors for Christ representing Him and His Gospel.
We often think this means we have to add another commitment to our lives so we can meet non-Christians. So we might consider joining a sporting team for example. Some of us may need to do this but for most of us it is just being more intentional about the relationships we already have with people in our lives. Whether that be at work, uni or with our neighbours.
It is then a matter of “being natural in your Christian life and Christian in your natural life.” (to quote Colin Buchanan) It is not necessarily being ‘evangelistic’ but being who you are as someone who knows Jesus and lives for Him.
Of course the attractional is dependent upon the missional. The reason for this is that we can only invite people to something if we are being missional and building friendships with people who we can invite to activities. The activities are their to assist people move closer to knowing Jesus.