No, this is not a plug for online church and no I am not on an emotional down swing and contemplating giving up on ministry. I’m actually not really talking about regular church attendance at all. What I’m talking about is the potential result from serving through outreach. Let me put it this way: We don’t serve our community because there is a return, we serve because it’s RIGHT!
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We launched Element Church in 2007. One of the things we did before we ever held a public worship service was serve the community through outreach. In fact, before our October 7th launch of that year, we had done four different outreach/serving projects in our community. We wanted to make the statement that, “Our church exists for our community, the community does not exist for our church.”
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One of the outreaches we did was a Gas Buy Down. You can watch a video of our most recent one HERE. In a gas buy down, we partner with a local gas station and pay down the price of gas by as much as $1.00 for four hours. The first one we did, we paid down the price of gas by 50 cents a gallon for two hours. It was AMAZING! We only had a handful of people who called Element Church “home” at this time. We recruited volunteers from out of town family and friends. We had people come from our home church in Gillette to serve. It was incredible. We had a line of cars that wound through a neighborhood and out of sight. People waited for over an hour to get the discounted gas and were blown away that a church was doing this.
Now, we did hand out invites to come check out Element Church, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that someone came to our church because of it. I truly believe that the local Church is God’s plan “A” to get the Gospel message into every community in our land. But here’s the thing. We didn’t know if ONE PERSON would attend our church because of that. And as far as I know, no one did.
So the next week I was talking on the phone with a leader of another church that I had connections to, telling them about the gas buy down and how amazing it went. They asked how much money it cost to pull off the event, and in the grand scheme of things it’s not that much. I was on cloud nine about the event when this leader asked me this question: “Well, how many people came to church because of it?” It was said with a critical tone of, “After you spent all that money did you get a return?” That’s when I made the statement that has stuck as a mantra for our outreach here at Element, “We don’t serve because there is a return, we serve because it’s RIGHT!”
Serving is the right thing to do whether we ever get a return from it or not! Would we love to see people come to church and ultimately come to know Jesus because we served? ABSOLUTELY! But if someone told us, “No one is going to come to church because of this outreach.” I believe we’d still do it. Why? Because it’s right!
Isn’t that what Jesus did? Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice of service on the cross with no promise of a return. Not everyone He died for will come to know Him. I believe that Jesus would have died on the cross even if NO ONE chose to put their faith in Him. Jesus didn’t die on the cross because there was a return, He died because it was RIGHT! It was what the Father had asked Him to do!
So, I do care if people come to church, but we will serve them whether they ever do or not!