Ministry Leadership

Daryl Cornett: For the Church, Lost People Come First


The last thing I say at the end of every one of our church’s Membership classes (GH 101) is, “As soon as you sign this church covenant, it ceases to be about you. You join arms with this church and turn outwardly together.

I believe that. The church doesn’t exist for itself, but for the lost.

Pastor Daryl Cornett captures this well in a recent blog post…

We need to get over people who are chronically unfaithful and uninvolved. We need to stop strategizing how to get them back. We need to care for these folks as well, but at some point we need to cut them loose and go invite others. The lost are all around us. They need to always be our first and greatest passion.

It’s a message the church needs to hear, loud and clear.

Read Daryl’s Full Article


  1. John Thompson

    “I believe that. The church doesn’t exist for itself, but for the lost.” How do you support that statement? Where in the Scriptures do you find this teaching? It sounds so spiritual but when you are called to account for the sheep that have been entrusted to you to be feed and cared for what will you answer? They were too obstinate and would not follow me.
    Why would I want to join a group that as soon as I joined would tell me the only reason you matter is to bring in more recruits? If you are not helping the church member to grow in grace what is to attract me to the Body?

    • Brandon Cox

      John, the mistake we make is in thinking that the two are exclusive of each other. The fact is, if believers aren’t reaching out to non-believers, they aren’t growing spiritually. Spiritual growth results in fruit-bearing.

      It’s entirely possible to focus outwardly on the lost, while helping believers to grow as well. In fact, this is the only way to help consumers to become contributors. And contributors are self-feeders. That doesn’t mean anyone is left on their own – that’s why we work so hard to keep people connected in small groups. But the energy we expend is put toward the mission.

      The Great Commission, itself, is the mission.

  2. John Thompson

    Having lived through the wonders and joys of the focus upon “the mission” forgive me if I am a bit skeptical. My experience has been and my reading of much of the literature of church growth, small groups ministries, etc. has brought me to the belief that when the focus is only on the “mission” means that we can write off any who do not meet the needs of the mission which has been truncated to witnessing. We have truly become an army that shoots its wounded. We have truncated the meaning of the great Commission to mean mainly to get new believers. Where even the most cursory reading would seem to indicate that the building of the disciples is of the same import as the spreading of the word one can not be done without the other. To say that “the energy we expend is put toward the mission” indicates to me that truncation of the mission.

    By the way Jesus did not reach out to non believers for nearly 30 years of his life on earth, does that mean that he was not growing in “favor with God and man” as the Scripture says?

    Is it as important to teach and disciple people to live the life of faith daily seeking their daily bread? We have elevated one part of the ministry of the church “witnessing” to the position of the greatest spiritual gifting. By doing so we have made so many who were witnessing by their lives to feel guilt and shame for their lack of “preaching” to the lost. Is it any wonder then that an estimated 30 million of those who would have been identified as “contributors” have left the church without any plans to return. These are not those who you would refer to as “consumers” but they are the ones who did the work.
    We need to spend our energy on the mission but we need to see the mission as more than just getting another decision. It is greater than that!
    Thank you Brandon Cox for another insight. I had not realized that the reason that leadership of the church felt that they could abdicate their shepherding to the small groups was because they saw them as self sufficient, as you said “self-feeders.” That clarifies a few things for me in how I see small groups used.

    • Brandon Cox

      John, I’m not sure that your sarcasm is warranted. I’m not compartmentalizing the mission in the way that you are. I would reject a truncated sense of mission as much as you would.

      The mission is far more than witnessing. It’s making disciples. And making disciples means leading people to become a part of God’s family and kingdom through a relationship with Jesus, helping them grow spiritually to be more like Christ, helping them plug in and serve other believers within the body, helping them live on mission daily, and all of us together worshipping and glorifying God.

      I believe that a church ought to grow larger through evangelism, stronger through worship, warmer through fellowship, broader through ministry, and deeper through discipleship.

      It’s not an either/or proposition and I think you’re creating a dichotomy that shouldn’t exist.

      Furthermore, I’ve personally witnessed this kind of ministry, both in the church I served most recently and the one I’m serving in now. I see people coming to faith in Christ, actually growing, giving, going, serving, and not just sitting. Not just absorbing. Not just consuming.

      To insinuate that I’m advocating the abdication of our pastoral role is a bit extreme. Jesus instructed his people to leave the ninety-nine and go after the one lost sheep. And in the context of his saying it, I believe the one lost sheep was outside the family, outside the flock.

      Churches that turn inwardly die. Churches that turn outwardly thrive. And they’d better do more than “witness.” It’s about making fully mature disciples.

  3. John Thompson

    My apologies for the sarcasm, it is one of my faults that the Lord is working on.

    • Brandon Cox

      I completely understand that – I have faults a plenty. I think if we were face-to-face, we’d probably discover more common ground than we realize. Thanks for being willing to dialogue!

  4. John Thompson

    Yes we probably do have much in common. I returned and reread the whole article. Admittedly, it disturbs me greatly. Guess I have seen to much of the pain inflicted by this thinking and its resultant ignoring of the needs of the people. I am not trying to be obstinate here just want to reiterate that though we may have much in agreement I find the tenor of this to be unbiblical. I see it as being more about the organizational impact than about the seeking the 1. Paul teaches that if a brother strays that we are to confront him if he continues in sin then we are treat him as we would an unbeliever. So I would take that as then looking at that one who may appear to be an unprofitable servant and approaching them with the love and care we would an outsider. Perhaps even more lovingly because we should have shared some experience with them.
    It is curious to me how easily and how willingly we seem to be to cut off those who struggle.

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