By Mark Wilson
I am convinced that a key to following Jesus' mission to baptize and teach (The Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20) involves effective communication. I 'm not just referring to pretty bulletins, brochures, websites, and announcements, but speaking to people like Jesus did, in a way that they could comprehend who he was and how that would change their lives forever. Here is a major decision or best practice that can help shift the culture of your local churches to become fully engaged with the Great Commission.
Public Church vs. Private Church
One cultural shift we need to examine is how we interface with people that are part of our congregations and with those that are out in the community. Are you a Public Church or a Private Church? Don't assume that just because you open your doors every Sunday that your culture says you are a Public Church.
What is a Public Church then? A Public Church is one that has the culture and strategy that says that anyone is welcome no matter what their relationship status is with God. A Public Church is a place that expects to greet guests of every race, color, and creed with every imaginable hurt and hang-up in the book. Public Churches are equipped to welcome these people into worship and will ensure that they are given the opportunity to hear a message of hope through Jesus Christ in a way that they can understand.
The two key words in that description are expects and equipped. Public Churches expect guests by being prepared with greeters to welcome, direct, and answer their questions. They expect guests with clearly marked parking areas, entrances, children's areas and restrooms. They are equipped by preparing space for guests to get information about your church. Public Churches are equipped for guest-friendly worship by translating church language and decoding church practices so that new people can experience worship fully because they don't feel like they are excluded.
The bottom line is that Public Churches are committed to reaching out to people in the community that need to know Jesus and they create a safe environment where they can begin to know him. Deciding to become a Public Church defines how you will "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
But how do you become more public? The answer is to pay attention to the details. And not just the surface details, but the layers and layers of a thousand “little things” that add up to creating a positive and healing experience for hurting people when they muster up the courage to come through your doors. It requires totally adopting the perspective of the person that doesn’t have a church background and may not have ever been in a church except for a wedding. They don’t know the history, don’t understand the language, nor do they care about the traditions. These “public” people are coming to your church, maybe as a last resort, to find a solution for their problem or an ointment for their pain. You get one shot to engage them and get it right, are you ready?