We are investing a lot of energy and money into this thing we call the Block Party. But why? Why bother with all the hubbub? It’s a lot of work, and what does it accomplish?
You may not know this (actually, I hope you know this. Let me rephrase that, you’d better know this by now. 🙂 but the whole reason we exist as a church is to reach more people for the Kingdom of God. Yes, we want to bring glory to God. Yes we want to use our God-given gifts for His glory. There are lot of other things we do as a church, but the number one reason we exist is to make disciples.
That doesn’t just mean that we make disciples of the people who already call SixEight home, but that we are constantly in pursuit of new people who want to make the decision to follow Christ and become a disciple as well.
Have you ever stopped to think that reaching out to people who don’t believe is the only thing we can’t do in heaven. Once we get to heaven, there will no longer be a need for evangelism – which is the church word for reaching out to people. We will worship God in heaven, we will use the gifts he gives us in heaven, be in his presence, learn more about who He is and all kinds of things. But we won’t be able to reach any new people once we’re in heaven.
That’s a huge reason why we are here. To go into all the world and make disciples.
It may come as no surprise to you, but according to a study done several years ago, fewer than 20% of people in America attend church regularly. In fact, we are one of 9 states in the above average claim for residents who don’t believe in God. Which means that more than 20% of our residents claim God doesn’t exist. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/122075/Religious-Identity-States-Differ-Widely.aspx#2). A 2008 Gallup poll comparing belief in God among U.S. regions found that only 59% of residents in the Western United States believe in a god, compared to 80% in the East, 83% in the Midwest, and 86% in the South. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/109108/Belief-God-Far-Lower-Western-US.aspx). As of 2000, we are one of the 6 U.S. states to have the lowest rate of religious adherence.
But, what does the Block Party have to do with that?
Simple, if people don’t know we are here, how can we lead them to become disciples? Here’s the issue we face: according to a study only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person to church. That means that 98% of church-goers never extend an invitation. (Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door). While I’m hopeful and almost certain (though I haven’t done the math) that our number is higher than 2%, I’m also certain that it’s not off the charts. When was the last time you invited someone to church?
So, one of our ways as a church to overcome this obstacle is to do events like the Block Party that invite the community into our world a little bit, and to give them a chance to experience the real people who call this place home. 35% of people would be inspired to attend church if they knew there were people like them there. (Scott McConnell, Lifeway Research) By doing the Block Party, we’re giving people the opportunity to see that we are all just normal people, like they are.
There’s another reason too. As you’ve heard for quite some time now, we are all about reaching the 8 to 15 people God has put into our lives. We firmly believe there are already 8 to 15 people we know that to whom we can be the living gospel. And, yes we absolutely want you to invite your 8 to 15 to church and the Block Party, but God has placed our meeting place in this community between 78th & 99th Streets, and between Lakeshore & Hazel Dell Ave. So, we have a burden and responsibility to do everything we can to reach this community for the Kingdom of God. And we feel that be doing things like the Block Party, we’re not only giving you an opportunity to invite your 8 to 15, but we are being an example of doing whatever it takes to reach our 8 to 15.
As Big As Easter & Christmas
A lot of churches put all their outreach efforts into Christmas & Easter. While we emphasize them, we also try to have opportunities at other times of the year to reach out to our community as well. The Block Party is on the same level as Christmas & Easter for our church.
But More Importantly…
As big of a deal as Christmas, Easter & the Block Party are, what do you think is most important? Let me tell you. The most important aspect of outreach at SixEight Church is you. You inviting your 8 to 15. 82% of people will respond positively to an invitation to come to church. 82%. Yes, that means you might get told no, but the chances are pretty good you won’t.
We will have the opportunity to interact for a small amount of time with around 500 people this Saturday. And we are grateful for that opportunity. But, you have the opportunity every week, and in many cases, every day, to spend a significant amount of time with your 8 to 15. Do you know what that math is? That means that if we all invest in our 8 to 15, we will be investing in the lives of over 700 people. And not just a short amount of time, but repeated, significant interactions with people you care deeply about. People you, no doubt, want to see in heaven when you go there.
Let the Block Party serve as a reminder that we are intensely serious about reaching this community. We’re not okay to just be here, we want to make a difference. We want to push back the dark and take the Light of Jesus Christ into dark places.
Will you go with us?