Principle #1 (of 9): Uncross Arms

Today I’m starting a discussion of principles we apply at our church for our Sunday morning services in our attempt to reach truly lost, un- or anti-churched people. Today, principle #1: Uncross Arms.

If you get an un-churched person or anti-churched person (someone who’s been to church in the past but has been turned off by the experience) they will come in with their arms crossed. You’ll see this person sitting in your auditorium with a nervous or negative look on his face. He may literally have his arms crossed. His body language is saying, “I already have my mind made up about church, but I’ve heard you’re different, so prove it to me,” or “I don’t think you have any idea of who I am or what my life is like; prove to me that you do,” or “I think you Christians are a bunch of uptight, judgmental, holier than thou types, prove to me that you’re not” and, “You have one chance.”

This person’s arms are crossed, but it goes deeper. With that attitude this person is very unlikely to experience God in the worship and not ready to really hear the message. There is an excellent chance that they’ll walk out the same way they walked in.

So what do we do? We uncross their arms. It’s our responsibility. We need to do it because God’s heart beats for this person, because Jesus bled for this person, because the Holy Spirit is ready to work on this person. We need to do it because this person didn’t choose to be this way. Somewhere along the line they had a bad experience with a church or some Christian, and that’s not right, and we must correct that wrong.

We unfold arms, and we do it quick. Things need to happen in the first few moments of this person’s experience (before they even sit down in the auditorium) and then again in the first few moments of the service that will bust this person’s stereotypes, open their eyes, soften their heart, and challenge their pre-conceptions.

Now if all you’re doing is reaching churched people, you simply need to provide a higher quality experience than the church they’ve previous attended. Since this person is a church shopper, if you meet their consumer needs you’ll get their business. But if you’re trying to reach truly lost, un- or anti-churched people, well, they’re not looking for a good church. They’re not interested in church. They’re surprised they’re there, and not expecting to return. And so you better do more than just give them quality, you better uncross their arms.

That’s principle #1. Personally, I don’t think this principle is debatable. How you apply it is totally up to you. Next time I’ll share some of the ways we apply it at Forefront.

Until then … quoth the raven nevermore.

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