I have heard all my life that you must meet the needs of people before they will hear the gospel.
See, we realize that the need is the gospel, but if a person is starving to death, or sleeping on the street, they may not see it the same way. We seem to understand this concept when we apply it to a third world country, but we miss the point at home. Why? We think we live in a land of plenty, but most of the needs around us are as important to people as a basic necessity overseas.
When a family crumbles and falls apart, that is a life-altering situation that leaves a hole in life. When a person loses a job, their self-worth is destroyed. When a person loses a loved one, the whole world caves in. When a person fails another, the disappointment can be devastating. Contrary to what we might want to believe, any of these people will have to be ministered to and loved before they may hear.
I like what George Barna said in "Rechurching the Unchurched". "Millions stay away, because they cannot make the value equation work. When they calculate the amount of time , money, and energy they would have to invest in a church, they do not see a reasonable return on the investment. Most of the unchurched figure they've gotten along just fine without the church for a long time, and until someone gives them reason to feel otherwise, they will remain spiritually unattached."
Do we think they will come to hear a sermon? Obviously not. Do we think they will come to experience good praise and worship? Obviously not, or they would be coming to many of our churches. Do we think they will come for their children? That may be 90's thinking. If it was true our churches would be full of young couples with young children. People can listen to polished speakers on television, attend concerts with all the flair of a great spectacular, and spend money to provide interesting venues for their children.
But, are they really building true relationships out in the world, or are the so-called relationships really nothing more than acquaintances? Are they surface friendships with neighbors, co-workers, other parents in extra curricular activities, and even PTA at school. These same busy people may be starving for some real relationships.
Are some of the people I've been talking about hurting? Is there a void that can't seem to be filled with anything they try? Are they going through the motions of life without anyone knowing how they really feel? We know the answer is Jesus, but will you have the stage to present Him?
Let's give them a reason to change their next step and to do that, we've got to change first!