And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together (Acts 16:13).
When Paul and his team arrived in Philippi, they went to the river expecting to find a place of prayer. What they found were a gathering of women.
In Judaism, in order to build a worshiping community, you had to have ten men present. Without that quorum of ten men, you could not hold public prayer services. Synagogue life was built on the foundation of that core group of men.
So when Paul arrived in Philippi, did he start looking for men to recruit? No. He saw that there were women engaged in prayer at the river, so he talked with about Jesus. He was more interested in finding hearts that are open to the gospel than he was in reaching a specific demographic.
When a church determines that it will go after a certain target market, it can miss where God is at work. In a sense it makes sense to know the kind of people you can reach because a church cannot be every kind of church and appeal to every kind of person. Members of a congregation should be aware of what kind of person will typically be attracted to their church. However, this should never be used to exclude people from the church.
Being a mission-possible go-and-tell church means that we are not looking for people who fit the mold of the ideal church member in terms of age or income or race. We are looking for people with a heart desperate to experience God’s grace, and eager to connect with Jesus Christ.
When Paul encountered the women praying the river outside the city of Philippi, he didn’t pass them by, he didn’t decide to look elsewhere for the “right kind of people” to reach. He ignored barriers of culture and gender and sat down to talk with them.
Paul’s target market was anyone who would listen to the gospel presentation. That needs to be your target market, too. Reach out to anyone who wants to know more about the life changing power of Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus,