By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
Up until last year, North Arundel Church in Glen Burnie, Md., didn’t have a specific outreach program. But when Senior Pastor James Pope planted the church in 1993, it was specifically to reach the unchurched, not by being “seeker driven” but rather by being “seeker sensitive.”
“Our effectiveness has been in providing a culture and environment that is nonthreatening to unbelievers. We have accomplished that through our clothing, our worship style and our preaching language,” Pope said, explaining his role has been to model an incarnational approach to Kingdom building by “becoming all things” outside of the Sunday morning experience and the worship location.
“The result from Day 1 has been unbelievers that describe their first experience with us as ‘like coming home’ and are so encouraged by the whole experience, but especially by the preaching (which they describe as ‘understandable’), that they instinctively bring others with them.”
Pope said it has been the norm for North Arundel Church to be in the third or fourth generation of an unbeliever’s network or “one inviting one who invites one, etc., before the first one comes to faith.”
In fact, the church’s lack of an “evangelistic program” has been the challenge of “cleaning the fish that are jumping into the boat” without having to bait a hook, Pope said, indicating his church model is more of a hybrid relational/attractional model. “People in Twelve Step Fellowships use the expression, ‘attraction not promotion’ as their model. It works for us.”
He added, “Do I want to improve on our track record? Absolutely. How? By doing a better job of disciplemaking. Done well, the evangelistic component will be evident.” —