Here’s the reality about us humans especially when we get connected in a group of other humans: we tend to turn inward. I don’t know that we do it on purpose or that we have any poor intentions but it just happens. We really enjoy the feeling of being connected and belonging some place. It’s not that we don’t care about people who are on the outside, we just don’t think about it. I mean life is busy and when we get a minute of true connection we just want to bask in it. The reality is connection is what we are made for, God hardwired it into us. So being connected and enjoying life with others is not wrong, it’s very very right. Yet, knowing this tendency about ourselves is important if we’re going to make sure that we both belong AND create belonging for others.
When I work with young leaders I always talk about our defaults. There are certain things we all do without being asked. If left to ourselves we will “default” to what is basic and what is most comfortable with us. So when I talk with leaders, I discuss how we rarely need to pay attention to what is our defaults they will happen. However if we want to grow and become more of who we can be, we need to be intentional in the areas that don’t come so naturally. Intentionality becomes the key to fulfilling what could be.
So back to our church life, it is not wrong that we default to wanting to connect and belong so we need to be intentional with the things that don’t come as natural. In our work with the coaching group, Intentional Churches, they recommended a 70-30 focus on outsiders. Not because outsiders are more important than those on the inside but because of our natural tendencies. If we don’t purposely focus our efforts and programming 70% to those not here yet, we will naturally default to 80-20, 90-10 or even 100% on ourselves.
Sometimes we can unfortunately think a church is so focused on outreach that they don’t care about the people who are already there. And to be fair there are some churches that clearly feel their mission is only/ primarily to reach out. However, in churches like ours, we do believe that a healthy church is BOTH focused on reaching people who aren’t here yet AND discipling and growing people. Yet, being aware of our natural tendencies we will likely need to be more intentional in what isn’t a default for us.
So what are your natural tendencies? What do you default to? What do you and I need to be more intentional about?