In-Reach or Out-Reach?

October 17, 2013



In a previous post (click here), I gave you our church’s process to make fully surrendered disciples (FSD): R + W + CP = FSD. At Eastside, our objective is to create fully surrendered disciples who can make fully surrendered disciples.

Let’s look at the first component of the process, “R” or Reach. In order for a church family to be successful in making fully surrendered disciples there has to be a healthy tension between in-reach and out-reach. Most churches today, unfortunately, do not maintain a proper tension between these two— in-reach and out-reach. Most churches will have a natural drift or affinity with one over the other.

When churches think about out-reach here is a good way to arrive at the “lostness” of your community:

Take the number of churches in your community (all flavors). Multiple that number by 85. Eighty-five is the average weekly worship attendance of a church in North America today. There are roughly 300,000 churches in North America. For example, in the community where I live there are 165 churches. Take a 165 x 85 (average weekly worship attendance) = 14,025 people will attend church in my community on a weekly basis.

Now, take the average weekly attendance of your community (14,025 in my community) and subtract that number from the number of people in your community. You have arrived at the “lostness” of your community. The estimated number of people living in my community is 80,000. So, there are roughly 65,000 people who do not attend church on a weekly basis in my community.

I have found that this simple exercise creates tremendous urgency among leaders.

We have looked at how there is a need for out-reach, now let’s look at in-reach. In-reach for us is about moving people from where they are “stuck” spiritually to challenging and inspiring them toward being a FSD.

Look at the chart below…



“L” stands for who are looking or are lost.

“B” represents babies in Christ.

“G” reflects growing Christians.

“FSD” are fully surrendered disciples.

Take a church that is averaging 200 adults in worship on a weekly basis. What percentage would you assign to each of the above categories with the total representing 100%?

The most common responses I receive are 10-40-40-10, respectively. I believe these percentages to be accurate. What do these percentages reveal? They reveal that there is not much movement among the members of the local church. In other words, there is not much in-reach taking place. Proper in-reach would mean that there is movement. The percentages that we are striving to attain would be 25% across the board.

What are your thoughts? Does your church lean toward out-reach or in-reach? What is the “lostness” of your community?


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