The purpose of our church is as follows: "Meeting people WHERE THEY ARE; Moving people to where God wants them to be!" According to that purpose, it all begins with meeting people WHERE THEY ARE. This involves meeting them WHERE THEY ARE geographically. Now that is a tough mission to accomplish as a pastor if all of my work week is spent inside the safe and friendly confines of the church building (which is easy and natural to do). As a result, I have tried to become much more intentional about spending part of my work week in town. After all, how can I lead our church in meeting people WHERE THEY ARE if I spend all of my time where they AREN'T?
One of the ways I have done this is to strategically schedule some of my meetings that are not private and personal in nature to local coffee shops and restaurants in town. I have also made it a point to go to the same place 2-3 times a week for lunch. I believe God is honoring this intentionality as evidenced in just one morning this past week where I spent a couple of hours in town rather that at church.
While I was having a meeting with a man from our church over a cup of coffee at a local fast-food restaurant, the manager of the establishment came up to us to ask if either of us owned the convertible that was sitting out in the parking lot. Neither of us did but I immediately recognized this individual as a waiter I had a few weeks earlier at a family style restaurant in town. Sure enough, it was the same guy. He shared with me how he works days at the fast food place and evenings at the other restaurant.
He went on to share with us that he really felt like he was lacking purpose in his life and just wasting his days away. He then asked what we did for a living. I told him I was pastor and that I thought I had just the book for him that could help him find a more purposeful existence. I asked him if I brought a copy of the book down to the restaurant over the next few days and gave it to him as a gift, if he would promise to read it. He agreed. As a result, I will be taking him a copy of Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" with my business card and personal cell phone number. I see this as a Divine Appointment set up by God that most likely never would have happened if I as a pastor did not intentionally spend time during my work week WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE!
From there I went over to another business in town where I met the receptionist. I came to discover that she and her family had recently started attending our church with her family and loves it (I had not met her previously as our church is growing quite rapidly). She shared with me her story of how they came to our church! It was priceless!
I then went to my "lunch dive" where as soon as I walked into the door and said "hello" to someone, a person immediately looked at me and said, "Hey, I heard your show on the radio this morning" (I do a live radio show each Wednesday morning on a local secular station). It was another great contact and connection that would not have occurred if I spent the entire day inside the church instead of WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE!