Andy Stanley said, "The natural gravitational pull of the every local church is to be insider focused." Why do you think that is? I believe it's true because the insiders are just that, insiders. They are the closest ones to us. Therefore it's their opinions we mostly hear. And it is natural for every pastor and church to want to keep their people happy and attending. But, solely listening to insiders is setting a dangerous precedence because it violates our God-given WHY. And as Simon Sinek describes in his theory of the Golden Circle (seen below), if you want to have a lasting impact everything must start from your WHY.
The Bible clearly defines our WHY as focusing on outsiders:
- Jesus said so... Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Matthew 9:12-13, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
- James, the brother of Jesus made sure the early Church leaders knew so... Acts 15:19, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God."
- Paul the Apostle clearly said so, numerous times and to various churches... Acts 26:17-19, "'I'm sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I'm sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.' What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot." Romans 11:13, "But I don't want to go on about them. It's you, the outsiders, that I'm concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders." Ephesians 3:1-2, "This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you're familiar with the part I was given in God's plan for including everybody."
It's clear. The Church's WHY, is to focus on reaching outsiders - those outside of the faith. But what about the insiders? Do they just get dropped? Do their feelings not matter? Of course not! If our motivation begins with an outsider focus, then I believe we can keep the insiders happy, too. Jesus said as much to His disciples in John 15 when He instructed them to "bear much fruit" and then said, "I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature." Jesus ties bearing fruit to real joy. In other words, if we focus on reaching the outsiders, the insiders will be full of joy. I've seen it work. There is nothing more exhilarating than leading someone to Jesus.
When the Church focuses on the insiders only, it makes all of it's decisions from the outside of the circle in - it begins with WHAT. This is when it begins to lose it's impact and influence. And this is when the Church becomes ugly and political and it's people hypocritical.
But as for me and my house, we will focus on reaching the outsiders. That's our motivation. That's our WHY. And that determines HOW we do Church and WHAT "product" we put forth week to week.