Churches should be major benefactors to the community. It is part of Jesus’ command to “love your neighbors”.
So we should be offering services to the people in our cities which is beneficial to them, even if the church does not receive any personal benefit from it, such as gaining new believers, more donations, larger influence, etc.
I certainly believe that doing any of the things on this list can bring about a by-product of gaining new believers, more donations or larger infuence, but each item does not have that as its ultimate goal.
The goal is to serve… not to be served.
Please note that there will be a lot of important things missing from this list – Not because they’re not vital to a church in general, but because this article is about how to serve your community specifically. If I listed everything that is good for a church to do, it would be 100 points long, and a million times more words.
Ok, on with the list:
1. Comprehensive Life Development
Often, churches have programs to establish people in the faith. Less often, they’ll have leadership development programs. And even less often than that does the leadership development include anything outside of church leadership.
I’m calling for training for people to learn how to become faithful in all areas of life.
Yes, it means training in relationships, child-rearing, finances, and the regular stuff.
But as we move into a global economy, the city-community has come to the forefront. The necessity for marketplace skills have become a much larger part of our culture. And we have to respond accordingly in the church.
So we need to be able to offer a comprehensive life development program, which includes training in implementing our faith principles into our work, through development tracks.
Urban professionals and entrepreneurs need to learn the role of work in their faith. Artisans and cultural creatives need to learn the role of art and creativity in their faith. Civic leaders need to learn the role of government and leadership in their faith.The goal is to serve... not to be served. #faith #church Click To Tweet
2. Life-Rebuilding Program
The homeless, the recovering addict, the newly-released prisoner, the ex-prostitute, the mentally unstable.
All these people need help, not only in their faith (which is the obvious thing a church can offer them), but also in rebuilding their lives so they can participate in society.
This can include members of the church offering short- to long-term housing for these people, as well as all sorts of training in life.
Most importantly, it involves breaking down the sinful strongholds in their lives, so that they can finally live in a way which honors God (Not that everyone on the list above are in their situation because of their own sin. Sometimes it is because of other people’s sins, but it still has a huge impact on their everyday life).
3. Neighborhood Strategy
I’ve heard it said that whatever you use to attract people is what you will need to keep them. Furthermore, a strategy which seeks to offer large events in hopes of entertaining people enough to bring them in your doors will be unsustainable and ineffective for real life change.
Each member should be committed to building true relationships with the people in their neighborhood. That way, they can serve individual friends, rather than attempting to serve the nebulous mass of “the needy” in your city. Those relationships can serve as a basis for authentic outreach.
Check out this article for more info.
4. Family Support
The family in America is falling apart. You all know what I’m talking about – fatherless homes, abuse, neglect, divorce, etc.
I know of a church (a house church to be specific) which offers a 6-week course about family principles to the people in the surrounding neighborhood. The course is non-Christian, though it does teach principles from Scripture.
Being non-Christian in nature, people feel less threatened to participate, and when the Scriptural principles are taught, people see the wisdom in simply running their families God’s way.
Families in America need this, even if it’s just an on-ramp to the gospel.
A course like this brings me to the next point…
5. Community Courses
There can be all kinds of community courses that you can offer your community – financial planning, art classes, children’s sports camps – the ideas are endless, really.
This is a good way to serve your neighbors and be an active benefactor to the community.
6. Resource Center
A resource center is a a building/property which is run by the church and offers all kinds of good to the community.
I won’t say too much about it here, because the concept is complex and this space is short, and I’ve written about it in another article.There are a million and one things you can do to participate in #community projects. Click To Tweet
7. Community Projects
Volunteer to man the marathon which is raising funds for an affordable housing project. Heck, sponsor that marathon. Offer manual labor toward the cleaning of the city parks. Volunteer at a senior living home.
There are a million and one things you can do to participate in community projects.
8. Community Services
I consider “community services” different from “community projects” in the last point. Projects is volunteering to fill a role. Services has more to do with specialized abilities present in your church. Here are some examples:
A nurse and a physician within your midst offer a free weekend clinic.
A dietitian puts on a free buffet once a month with healthy foods and education about healthy eating habits.
A musician plays a regular free kids concert.
Benefactors to the City
As a result of doing these things in the community, the church is able to be a benefactor to the city.
It is loving your neighbors and meeting urgent needs.
So do these things with vigor, that the people would see the goodness of Christ within you.
Also published on Medium.