I find that people often disagree, but I believe the church's primary responsibility is to those who are not a part of it.
Guests, visitors, seekers, whatever you want to call them. They should be the focus.
The people who are least likely to enter a church should be the most important people to the church. We should be striving to get more of them in, to help them realize a God who has been with them all along.
Of course the church should also care for those who are already a part. I'm not saying to ignore them at all. What would the point be of getting people in, if they are immediately discarded once they attain a new status? Seems a bit absurd, doesn't it?
But the problem comes in when we cater to the voices of those who are already in, to the point where it drowns out the calls of those who are outside.
I think NPC's outreach program is a great example. We work with different organizations each month through our '2nd Saturday' events to meet their needs in our community. Most of the time going off site for our event...but this month, it'll be at the church itself.
We have about 1000 kids signed up to come be our guests at a "Back to School Bash" on Saturday morning. They'll be getting shoes, toys, socks, underwear & groceries. We'll also have free physicals, dental screenings, & hair cuts available. Outside we're having a carnival with lots of inflatables, games, other shenanigans & a BBQ.
These 1000 kids coming, they're not a part of our church.
Well, some of them are of course, we opened the event up to church members as well who were in need. But mostly these are kids & families who are not associated with us. Maybe not associated with any other church either.
But they're in need. And we're going to meet it as best we can.
It's such a huge need though.
We had to close our registration early. We've had to turn away dozens (maybe hundreds) of families who have contacted us about signing up their kids. And we'll have to turn more people away when they show up unregistered to the event. It'll be rough, and I don't envy the ones who will be doing it. But we just won't have anything left to give.
We just need to realize there is always going to be more need, and to do the best we can with what we have...even if we can't do everything.
Some may say that the church's primary job is to build up the believers within it. To have them be in community with each other, growing in their faith, being shepherded by their leader, etc.
To me, that sounds like the exact opposite of the kind of faith Jesus instructed his followers to live out. The Jesus who was constantly out spreading his influence to more people in more areas. The Jesus who instructed his followers to go and do likewise.
Sure Jesus didn't go around giving people socks & inviting them to play carnival games (or maybe he did). But we do things to meet people where they are. Both with their physical needs, and to help break down barriers to their spiritual needs.
It'll be a great weekend.