Pastors Knute Larson, Jim Brown, and Jeff Bogue talk about how the church should be involved and viewed by the community.
The moat around the church building should be at least nine feet wide and rather deep, so people will not jump across it.
The password to enter the building should be complicated, with some gibberish and symbols so no ordinary person can understand; and the phone number should be unlisted so you do not get unwanted calls that distract from your purposes.
The people of the church should be kept constantly busy so that they do not have time to mingle with the unchurched in the area.
These are just some of the ways we can keep the church separated from the world, as it says somewhere in Scripture.
Or is that command about our personal lusts and pride and anger? And are there clear directives and examples in the Bible of our mingling with all kinds of people in the world so that the church gets to show love and grace and truth?
None of us would build the moat or have a password, but it is easy to forget the closest mission field and ministry opportunity that there is. Right around us.
This month we tackle a few ideas about the “Jerusalem” where we all live, and how to be a presence of love and support.
See what you think!
Trying to live ON MISSION,
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
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Church Community Ministries
What difference should we make as a church where we are?
- I like this quote, “We can’t do everything, so we do everything we can.”
- We should do our very best to connect with our community leaders, find out what their needs are, then think and pray about how we (with our people, resources, and time) can be a part of loving our community in those ways.
- We should be a mooring point of hope that people run to in time of crisis and need.
- I have said this on many occasions to our people: “if Ryder trucks came and packed everything up and moved us out on a Monday and no one knew we had left by Saturday, then we were not doing what the church should be doing!”
- We should be well respected, a place that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor, and offers help to the sick!
- Plus we have the hope of the world in Jesus and our lives should be so contagious that people long to have what we have in Christ!
- A profound difference that pushes back darkness and shines its light; otherwise we are not making a difference.
- A difference of love and grace, where ever the people of the church lived and go, and around where the building is. Remember that the verb in the question is “should.”
- People around should hear good things about the church, and that it is a safe place to stop or attend.
- Whatever we do in the community, people should know we care. They have heard we do meaningful funerals and weddings, to speak of events where guests often attend, and that people
in need have found help here.
- A difference of having really well kept property, no matter how properties around us are kept.
What ministries does the church start, and which do we partner with?
Partnerships are one of Grace Church’s eight values. We do not want to re-create the wheel. We do not start many ministries; our first instinct is always to partner. So, if there is a partner we can connect with theologically, has the same ministry mindset, and has outcomes we can value and make our own, then we always seek to partner. We know there are often small ministries that have faithfully been serving for many years, and for us to bring people and resources to bear in these situations is a huge blessing to them. They are always our first priority.
- Look around and see what other churches are doing well and do not replicate it. Find your own unique ministry that reaches people who are not churched already.
- Start ministries that connect to your culture and meet real needs.
- Find ministries that connect with the people you are trying to reach.
- We have tons of VBS’s, so we do sports and arts camps.
- Connect with local ministries and send your volunteers to serve alongside. Support financially.
- We all wear blue shirts when we send our people out so the community knows us and finds us a safe group of people.
- Whenever a disaster or crisis hits your community, be the first to offer help.
- Find ways to meet the needs and pray for local business owners.
- We built our building to be a place for people to come to. We have an indoor track, men and women’s workout rooms and in the process of building and indoor play land that will be able to hold 200 children.
- I cannot remember if the idea of reinventing the wheel is Old or New Testament, but I think it applies. If another ministry is meeting a special need in a good way in the area — food bank, clothing help, pregnancy services, jail ministry, and more – why start a new one?
- Consider taking on three to five “mercy partners,” ministries who meet specific needs in your community. You support them with prayers and finances and volunteers. Thus they become an extension of your church and your people. List them with staff on your website or in your bulletin.
- Then there are many other ministries that should start in your church, especially for special groups. Support groups for single moms, addiction, grief, divorce, parents of children with disabilities… there are many of them. These can very appropriately be handled by the local church for its people. Some should then reach outside the church of course.
What should the pastor do personally?
- He should lead and be involved, if he can.
- He should celebrate and communicate the needs and values of why we are involved in these ministries.
- He should make space. If there is a big community effort going on that the church needs or wants to be a part of, the pastor should help to make sure the church calendar is clear, so the community can be served in the right way.
- Be a servant leader who goes with his people.
- Serve and coach and use your gifts to get plugged in.
- We do our weekly pastoral staff meeting at local restaurants so people become familiar with us.
- Pray for your city!
- Be a generous tipper in local restaurants
- Show up and be in the picture when crisis hits! Offer help!
- We can say that the pastor is just one of many faces of the church, and we could win the debate on paper. The fact is he is the face and should show special interest at least in some of these city events and ministries.
- Set the mood for the whole church to love the area – in sermons, by example, in writings and emails, and in one-on-one recruitment.
Should the mayor know about your church?
He/She should know that we love our city, we are always available to serve and help our city, we are willing to do that with no agenda, and we are not necessarily looking for something in return. We do it out of love and service.
- Yes, if he does not then maybe you are not really making a difference.
- Our motto is, “In the community and for the community!”
- We had our men’s ministry, Fight Club, write the mayor and tell him we are praying for him.
- Yes, because the school superintendent has told him how your church helps a school or two with backpacks or tutoring and needs.
- Yes, because the police chief has told him how your church honors the police and fire people each year.
- Yes, because he reads the note you send him whenever the church prays for him and others in government, in the morning services.
- Yes, because his wife attended one of the Christmas teas with a couple of the ladies from your church, and one of them attended the Christmas concert last year.
- Yes, because the area around the church building is a lot neater and cleaner than it used to be.
- Yes, because he stopped by when your church was having the free grace car wash in the parking lot.
Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.