Summary of parts 1 & 2:
The wider your target, the less powerful your impact.
The wider your target on Sunday morning, the less people you will likely reach.
The more narrow your target on Sunday morning, the more people you will likely reach.
The more narrow your target, the more powerful your impact.
Our targets are primarily these four people (in this intentional order):
- The person who trusted Christ on Thursday
- The person who will be trusting Christ next Thursday
- A 8th grader (likely a boy as they are harder to reach)
- A mature believer
Here are a few thoughts on our targets and their order.
We chose "Thursday" randomly to make it "real." Not just a new believer, but what happens when someone comes to Christ? The Holy Spirit lives in them. The old has gone and the new has come. In other words, what happens on Sunday mornings should make sense to them. Thinking about "Thursday" makes it feel more real and I can imagine THAT person as I prep a sermon or as we plan a service.
Focusing on the primary target (a brand new believer) changed everything we do. It seems to me, many churches reverse this order. Their primary target is mature believers. I'm convinced if you make that your primary target, you will never reach the other three. If you make the new believer the target, it is pretty easy to reach all four targets.
I also think that many churches focuses on reaching teens through the youth ministry. No wonder so many teens graduate from youth group and they graduate from the church.
The fourth target (a mature believer) will state their complaints and disastifaction but the new believer will not. They just won't come back. If we miss the target of a mature believer, we will hear about it. If we miss the target of a new believer, they won't say anything. They just won't come back. An 8th grader won't complain, he just won't pay attention. That means that we have to interpret a lot of things. We have to "imagine" how they hear certain things. Once they believe and have followed Christ for a few months, we will often ask them how they heard certain things and what helped and didn't help. Here's the point, you will hear from the long-term believer when they don't like something. You won't hear from the first three targets. You must solicit that information somehow.
Putting these targets in this order has changed everything we do on Sunday morning. Of course we don't compromise truth because that is what it is all about. But it has forced us to ask what is biblical and what is preference? Here are some categories it has impacted:
- Sermon length
- Music style and choices
- Instruments used
- Use of technology
- Length of services
- Theological and churchy language – still teach theology, just in understandable words to a new believer
- How we talk about the offering
- Use of special music
- How we view the minutes prior to a service beginning
- How we view the minutes following a service ending
- How I approach controversial topics (I don't avoid them – I just approach them differently than I used to)
- How we dress
- Use of outside speakers
- Multi-site strategy (making it easier for new people to come)
- What gets announced and how we announce it
- Programs that run on Sunday morning and ones that can't (for space)
- The length of public prayers
- And 100 other things
So – who is your target and how do you reach them?