Over the last few weeks I have found myself working with a variety of denominations, helping churches think about how they can connect and share the Gospel message with those in their community.
I often begin this process by taking church leadership teams on a slow reflective walk around their community asking God to reveal the needs of their community and the kind of connections that can be made.
And over the last few years I have seen churches connect brilliantly with their community and present the Gospel faithfully. What's interesting is that some churches have grown numerically whilst others have not.
The churches that have grown saw mission as an opportunity to invite people to come to a faith in Jesus but also to belong to their church community.
They held onto their doctrine but they were willing to re-think some of the ways they were doing church to accommodate those unfamiliar with some of the jargon and the tradition of how they had been doing church.
They took time to explain why they did what they did. They were willing to answer questions during the church service. They were willing to adapt their worship style to connect with their new friends.
There was a depth of relationship with those they had connected with, that meant that they were becoming part of the family.
But the churches that have not grown saw mission as a bolt on to what they were already doing. Mission became an activity they did rather than relationships they were investing in. When it comes to faith sharing, mission is not enough.
Our gatherings need to offer a warm welcome to newcomers with the opportunity to form deep relationships. Our gatherings need to foster a deep sense of community, that is so often missing in a digital age.
Our gatherings, against the backdrop of a broken and divided culture, need to prophetically paint a picture of one family of different ethnicities, ages and backgrounds.
Our gatherings need to be places where we can all be known and belong. It's when mission is coupled with a welcome community that offers belonging, that people can truly embark on a life of following Jesus.
Andy Frost is director of Share Jesus International, which exists to serve and equip the church in sharing the Christian faith