When Churches get solely inward focused they can easily become a country club that is hard for outsiders to break into. When churches get solely outward focused, they wear themselves out on a mission that eventually has little to no foundation in community or biblical teaching. Finding balance here is difficult.
There are events in the life of a church that draws attention and resources inward and there are other events that can force a congregation to look outward. That is often natural and necessary. The trick staying in that space for the time needed and for the reasons it was needed without getting stuck there. Two examples – Church A decides they want to build a new building. They start making plans, having meetings, and raising money. Before long their conversation is consumed with all the things they need and want in the new facility. Meanwhile, outreach is lacking because all the focus has turned inward. They sure feel good about themselves and what they are able to accomplish. Church B decides that they are too institutional. They scrap all the trappings of the institutional church. They drop Bible class and even drop Sunday worship at times in order to go out and do work among the poor. If they aren’t careful they become just another social club that does good deeds in the community with no foundation in the Gospel and no spiritual transformation taking place. Like Church A, they sure feel good about themselves and what they are able to accomplish.
These two illustrations are caricatures. It doesn’t mean looking in is bad or looking out is bad. Both are good. But both can become an obsession that results in the direct exclusion of the other, challenging the health of the church. The majority of churches that are out of balance in this are too focused inwardly. There aren’t too many churches that err on the side of outreach.
The Inreach/Outreach Ratio in your Congregation
The Inreach/Outreach Ration Part 2