Thursday, October 16, 2014
Content and strategy
This funnel diagram, which I adapted slightly from Laurence Singlehurst’s illustration in Sowing Reaping Keeping, is a way of showing how the most people and the least content ‘funnel down’ to a few people who are ready for the challenge of the Lordship of Jesus in their life – the Gospel. Similarly, most people and least content has the greatest frequency. The higher content activities will need to be run much less often.
In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
MANY churches have a ‘connecting’ idea which comes from God, but they come to it with more of a ‘reaping’ expectation than a ‘sowing’ one which leads to poor execution and often, disappointment. All good ideas need good strategies to make them work well.
An even more common problem is not having a comprehensive strategy on how a ‘connecting’ idea, whether it’s a networking one or a pioneering one, can progress through the levels of sowing and into reaping. There’s a hundred ideas that can be used for reaching our communities. However, it’s vital that we understand how these ideas work.
Take a really common example – setting up a mother and toddler group. This is a pioneering idea which sets out to make relationships that the church might not normally have with mothers and toddlers in the locality, meeting a community need at the same time. It is also a ‘Sowing 1’ kind of project – serving and friendship more in view than content. it is a place where people can see that “God is good and we’re OK”.
Many churches have a good idea like this and then try to do everything within that one context. So they seek to reap within this one event, expecting mothers to fall on their knees beside the pushchairs and be wonderfully and soundly converted. But there are a couple of problems:
1. The mothers came along to a mother and toddler group (like many others) and didn’t come along to be preached at.
2. Within one group you could have some who are quite open, but others who have only just started to come and who might feel violated by a sudden introduction to the gospel.
This is where strategy comes in. This can be just as Spirit-led as anything else we set about prayerfully. It just helps if we know we need a strategy, and ask God to help us with one. Evangelistic strategies generally look like an inverted triangle where the top of the ‘funnel’ has the most people coming and the least content. Down the triangle, there are fewer people but there is more content. The next level (perhaps more than one level) has more emphasis on putting over the gospel in an attractive way, but not pressing for an appeal. The bottom of the triangle, the third or fourth level, has the least people, just those who are ready and open for this, but the most content. This is the reaping level. This might typically be an evangelistic invitation kind of service, or it could be an Alpha which combines the content end of sowing with a clear reaping intention and opportunities to respond and be empowered.