Reaching the Unchurched

We are living in an emerging age of conceptualization that often is influenced by postmodernism and value-driven ministry. This segment of society expects unity through mission and vision, instead of uniformity through policies and procedures.

In general, people are not interested in organized religious affiliations. Then how do we reach them? The church must be relevant and able to contextualize the ministry. What is “contextualization”? A social, ethnic, or cultural setting is a context. Each cultural or ethnic context is unique, growing out of unique worldview assumptions that result in specific ways of thinking about and living life (Holistic Ministry and Cross-cultural Mission in Luke-Acts, Glenn Rogers, pp.14-65).

So let’s consider engaging in six crucial components of contextualized ministry:

  1. Diversified Ministries—These should expand the ministry portfolio beyond the four walls of the church. Instead of doing the church program as inward focused, we must be the church in our society as outward focused and providing relevant ministries.
  2. Heart Faith—Instead of engaging in the logical, cognitive converting process of traditional, proselytizing strategies—head-to-head—of information transitions, we must share the life-changing stories of individuals from heart-to-heart—telling how God made a difference in our lives.
  3. Change Agents—Engaging in dialogue about societal challenges and providing relevant community outreach ministries to equip individuals and develop community is a crucial aspect of being a Christian. Your Sabbath School should consider establishing educational ministries such as English as a second language and General Education Diploma (GED) classes, and after-school tutoring programs. In addition to hosting community picnics, cultural-difference discussion groups, etc., help draw people together with church members.
  4. Holistic Ministry—Jesus did not just teach people how to be saved from sin. He took an interest in the whole person: physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. Ministering to people’s needs could be expensive and time consuming, but it is our duty and responsibility as Christians.
  5. Excitement—Vibrant ministry generates enthusiasm and promotes self-motivated commitment to the cause of action. Through the enrichment of life experience, one could shift from being a religious practitioner to experiencing genuine fellowship with God in an intimate relationship.
  6. Passing the Legacy—Through the faithful journey with Jesus Christ, we could transform the world as a better place to live by making a difference in people’s behavior. Because of our churches, hospitals, and educational institutions, communities are transformed as we pass on to our children the values of the kingdom of heaven.

In short, the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 addresses God’s mission in the world as two components:

  1. To reconcile the broken relationship between God and His children through baptism of the triune God.
  2. To transform the world into the kingdom of God through individuals’ life-changing experience as His disciples.

So for a church that is missional in nature, community outreach is not an option: Community outreach is the primary reason for its existence.

Sung Kwon
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists