As a child we used to play a silly game called “Mother May I.” You probably played it too. There was no real strategy to the game. We would take turns saying “Mother, may I take x number of steps” toward the “mother.” She / he would either agree or say “No you may not.” If I recall correctly, the object of the game was to make one’s way to mother and then get the opportunity to control the steps of others. In the game, there were baby steps and giant steps. A mother who granted too many giant steps was quickly out of a job. Consequently, baby steps were much more common.
Baby steps are making a comeback in kingdom outreach. I have discovered that the sad reality of our culture is that moving from “un-churched” to “churched” has become a giant step…actually a giant leap. Few who have always been on the outside can comfortably enter into the sanctity and environment of the church. Few outsiders are willing to become insiders in one go.
I understand. I just flew in from a week of teaching in Romania. I preached on Sunday in the Holy Trinity church in Braila. I wasn’t completely out of my element. It was, after all, a church. However, I was one of the few who spoke English. I sat in the wrong place. When I thought it was time for me to preach, I made my way to the stage, only to be turned back and told to wait. I stood up when I was supposed to sit down. I sat down…well, you know. When the church broke into spontaneous prayer, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. And I couldn’t sing the songs. This American made a pretty poor Romanian Christian that day. It was uncomfortable.
A couple of Christian comedians have done a great job of showing us just how different we are within the church culture. I highly recommend you go to YouTube and watch “Shoot Christians Say” by Tripp and Tyler. Their poignant humor is spot on. The consequence is that giant steps are gone. If we are going to reach the lost of Jesus we have got to provide a clear pathway of baby steps. Little steps are manageable for those roaming the hills outside the fold.
For instance, our student pastor opens our gym on Tuesday and Thursdays for middle schoolers to come and play. He is like the Pied Piper leading up to 50 kids over from the next door school. Kids like to play. To come and play is a baby step. He then invites those kids to additional activities, like a hiking or camping trip. Another baby step, but one that continues to connect them to Christ and his church. Now, some of the kids have begun coming for Wednesday night ministries we call “The Dub.” None have convinced their families to attend a Sunday morning worship…yet! But even baby steps eventually lead to mother, or in this case, Father.
For the church to be effective in the years ahead, we must think in terms of baby steps, lots of baby steps. Lifetree Cafe is a baby step. Our sports teams are baby steps. Anything that connects the people of God with the people of the world without dragging them into a worship service or a bible study is a baby step. Of course the key to baby steps, like any other steps, is to have a destination in mind. I would suggest the arms of Jesus.