Recently, I did a series of posts on why a church should have a target, why every church has a target and how to make choices to reach that target (you can read them here). After the series, I got some questions about whether or not it was biblical to have a target. After all, are we told anywhere in the bible that a church should have a target.
The answer is yes.
In the book of Acts, we see how Paul had a target of the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:17) and how Peter had a target of the Jews (Galatians 2:17). Jesus in the great commission even gave the disciples a road map of who they were to reach and the order in which to do it (Matthew 28:18 – 20).
As you look at the New Testament, you see that certain people were better suited to reach certain people. Their backgrounds, the way they talked, how they understood certain world views, enabled them to be more effective in taking the gospel to places. The courage of some allowed them to plant churches others never would.
Does this mean that Paul never shared the gospel with a Jew? Or Peter with a Gentile? No, in fact we have evidence of them doing that. It means they were focused though and knew who their primary target was.
Churches are the same. The style of preaching lends itself to reaching a certain person. The pastors who have effective ministries are largely effective because of where they are located. That isn’t an accident. Instead of fighting against this, churches need to be clear about this. And, they need to support church planters who go to places they don’t.
Let’s admit a tension here: it sounds unloving to say we are better suited to reach a certain kind of person as a church. This is a reality though. Dress, style of music, age of the people on stage, how programmed or organic a church is. All of these go into who a church is best suited to reach. A church will reach people outside of the norm, but by and large, they will reach a certain kind of person more easily. When we fight against this, our effectiveness goes down. This is one reason that church planting is so important. It enables a church to reach different kinds of people within a city.
I think that is one reason God blessed Peter and Paul’s efforts. They led from their natural gifts, didn’t fight with each other about it (at least after Acts 15, so you can see what happens when we look down on each other) and they then encouraged each other by planting more churches in a variety of places with a variety of leaders.