As who is jesus, we talk about it all the time to anyone who will listen. We make slogans about it. Ministers are apt to talk about the group using such terms. Ministers, church leaders and others are usually telling people that it is something that your church desperately want to become a part of. And there are times when we stretch the limits of the programs and/or events we put on to say they qualify for it.
What is “it” you ask”??
Simply put, it is about getting your church involved in the community. Perhaps the only challenge greater than getting your church involved in your community is getting the community as it were in your church. But you need one to get the other. And without one, you can’t get the other.
Your church being a part of the community.
On a global basis, churches have always been instrumental to such projects as the Peace Movement and other similar causes. Today’s church’s are eager to start reaching out to their world more locally with both good news and works. As such they are searching for appropriate ways to integrate both into their ministry.
There is a growing movement of innovative churches whose leaders are thinking differently about what church could be and/or should be. They have readjusted their focus from inward thinking outwardly and how their influence can manifest in their community. These churches are making great strides as to what and how they are measured or represented and ultimately valued within their communities. In the end, they are changing how people view church in general.
Sounds good, but what could my church do?
Korean churches have been active in the community for years by supporting such efforts as:
- educational and financial support for students, particularly for college students.
- caregiving and activities for the elderly
- marriage and family strengthening programs, parenting education, and children and youth programs
- support and mediation to address intergenerational conflicts among 1st, 1.5, and 2nd generation Korean Americans translation and education to address the language barriers of immigrant families
I am not going to advocate that these are the only cases in point of churches being a part of their community. For the list is as long as your mind can wander. But here are some demonstrations that I think can have your church viewed differently in your neighborhood.
- Church holding community campfires – Check out the article in the Issaquah Press http://tinyurl.com/kvknrk
- Donating to hospitals – Let’s be real here. There are a good number of churches who volunteer at hospitals. But this church really gave it the personal touch when they created the “Caring Hands” program and handmade shawls as reported in the Somerset Reporter http://tinyurl.com/nqqlzr
- Another church committed to helping every third grader read at grade level. They also facilitated breakfast for these kids to insure they were at their best.
- Another church asked those in the church to live on beans and rice for a week and give the savings to feed the hungry.
This doesn’t even take into account the myriad of ministries that churches can offer to fulfill challenges in their area.
Are there activities or events that don’t fit?
In my opinion, yes. There are events and promotions that your church puts on that doesn’t put you into the community as an organization of value. Contrary to popular belief among a lot of churches, a garage sale doesn’t qualify you as part of the community.
The questions you want to ask yourself if you are truly being part of the community?
Does it have redeeming value? You may think the community campfires are a challenge to measure, but you will see the rewards in how you are viewed as a church and also as an attendee.
Listening is the key
In the end, it does comes down to listening. Listening to the needs of the community. Churches are usually better telling what they are offering and hope it fits than to listening hard to the real needs around them. Rather than trying to impose your will through services and ministries that you offer that aren’t a good fit at this time, think of things that are of real value, that represent what your church and its’ values stand for.