3 Easy Ways to Connect with Your Community
What kind of reputation does your church have within your community? Do people know where you’re located and what you believe? What would they say about the “vibe” they get from your church members (warm and forgiving or uptight and self-righteous)? Do local leaders (fire/police chief, mayor, director of a homeless shelter, etc) have the phone numbers of key staff members? Have local leaders called on your church to help during a city-wide emergency (such as a natural disaster)?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I’d suggest talking with your leadership team about making a concerted effort to focus more on what’s going on outside your church walls. While it’s important to teach, disciple, and shepherd those already within the congregation, the reputation and relationship of your church with the surrounding community is a key component for winning the lost.
What if your church became the go-to partner with local leaders when there’s a disaster, social unrest, or a systemic issue they haven’t been able to solve?
What if your congregation became known for families who take in foster children or who adopt with the support and help from their church family?
What if your congregation hosted dinners for the high school football team, cheerleaders, and band?
What if your youth leaders were familiar faces at sporting events and school functions?
What if people in your community who don’t attend your church immediately thought of your congregation as people who will help when coming across someone in need?
Is your church a vital part of the fabric of your community? Would they miss you if you suddenly shut down?
A reputation of compassion, love, and dedication to serving your city takes time to develop. It won’t happen by accident, but it’s certainly doable with a bit of planning.
Once your church leadership team agrees to focus on community involvement, here are a few simple ways to get started:
Tip #1 – Make introductions
Talk with your staff and key volunteer leaders. Find out if they already know leaders throughout your city. Ask for introductions for your senior pastor and others on the team.
Tip #2 – Offer to help
Ask how your church can help. Meet with local leaders and ask about the biggest issues facing your city. What are these leaders struggling to solve? Which issues matter most to them that align with how your church could help?
Get to know these leaders as individuals, not just elected officials. Ask how you can help or, even better, offer a few suggestions and gauge the response. Simply by indicating you truly want to help them succeed will open doors. They’re used to constituents and lobbying groups asking for (or demanding) their help. It’ll be refreshing to hear someone actually not ask them for anything yet offer their assistance.
Tip #3 – Show up
Attend the local Christmas parade (no matter what they call it), help out with the high school band’s pancake breakfast fundraiser, join in on city park clean up efforts, go to football games, etc. Be present in your community; be helpful and willing to listen wherever you go.
Engaging with your community can start as simply as taking snacks to the nearest fire station and chatting with the firefighters for a while. This doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, but it does require you to start. It’s worth the effort to see fresh faces at church and families served in your community. Let’s be the hands and feet of Christ to those within our reach.
How has your church reached out to your community?