May 3, 2017 Paul Alexander

Should Your Church Spend More Energy Keeping or Reaching People?

It’s commonly said that you can tell if a church is insider-focused or outsider-focused by how they make decisions. Do they make decisions based on whom they’re trying to keep or whom they’re trying to reach? Oh, if it were only that simple.

Churches That Reach

Jesus started this movement called the Church with one simple mission, to reach outsiders. Some churches become so focused on this mission that they’ll do anything short of sin to reach outsiders. Unfortunately, this often involves ignoring insiders (people who have already said yes to Jesus) … which might be sin. The challenge most outsider-focused churches have is helping people who say yes to following Jesus take their next steps with Him (discipleship).

Churches That Keep

It’s also clear through the teachings of Jesus that knowing and following God is relational by it’s very nature and can not be done well alone. This is why He said that His followers would be known by the quality of their relationships (love).

Some churches become so focused on the “one another’s” of Scripture that they don’t make room for outsiders. They frequently become so comfortable that they’re unwilling to change to reach people. That’s the exact opposite of the definition of maturity that so many insider-focused churches cling to. The challenge most insider-focused churches have is helping people actually say yes to Jesus (evangelism).

I heard Dr. Kara Powell who serves as the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute say, “Balance is something we swing through on the way to the other extreme.”


Great church leaders don’t try to balance reaching people and keeping people. They’re willing to live in the tension that the call of the Church is to reach outsiders and impact insiders. They don’t see these as two opposing forces, but rather as complimentary ideas that fuel the movement of the church. It’s not one or the other… it’s both-and.


Looking to find out if your church has a healthy approach?

Learn how The Unstuck Group‘s Ministry Health Assessment gives you a current snapshot of your ministry’s health and helps to best position your church to fulfill its vision.

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Paul Alexander

Paul is a Ministry Consultant with The Unstuck Group. Paul has more than 20 years experience serving in the local church, the last 15 of which have been on the Sr. Leadership Teams of some of the nation’s leading mega-churches. Currently, Paul is serving as the Executive Pastor at Sun Valley Community Church, a large multi-site church located in the Phoenix area.

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