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I’ve posted other articles about ways in which the church can partner with the city government to do really great things for the community.  Here is one example.  And here is another.  And here.

But why doesn’t this happen very often?

Why don’t the church and the city usually work together to provide meaningful support to the people?

There are all kinds of things we could do.  Just a few off the cuff – life-rebuilding programs for ex-convicts, creative placemaking, homeless ministries, getting-off-welfare programs, broken family support programs, mental health rehabilitation.

But we rarely do it.

Look at the following list and consider whether these obstacles are unnecessarily hindering your ability to work with your city government to do good for the community.

Not Christian Enough

long road 2There is something to be said about questioning what we decide to spend our time on.  As church leaders, we have a responsibility to make sure we use our limited resources on what will be most strategic for God’s Kingdom.

But, whether we admit it or not, we can be a little closed-minded about what is strategic.

The government is not Christian by nature.  In fact, the government does a lot of things which could be considered anti-Christian.

But that’s not enough to completely ignore what partnership opportunities may be available in serving the community.  After all, that is one of our goals of the church – to serve the community.

We might not say it out loud, but many times, we consider people or organizations as unworthy of our time because they are not Christians.  But the resources and organization that the city can offer, in partnership with the love and community of the church, could make for a beautiful service for the poor and needy in our cities.

One of our goals of the #church - to serve the #community. Click To Tweet

Not Politically Aligned

Yeah, I get it.  It’s hard to think that someone on the opposite side of the aisle can really offer anything good.

But whatever your views are on the federal budget, immigration, gun control or other really important political controversies, those things tend to play a really small role in local government.

You see, in local government, you’re not making decisions about the federal issues.  You can just deal with local problems and come up with meaningful solutions.  You can actually help people directly.

So forget about your political differences, and understand that your mayor, city council, city managers, etc., want to help people.  And if you can build relationships with them, you can build important services to the community together.

Red Tape

benchSometimes, it’s not the church’s fault that you can’t build that relationship with the city, though.

Sometimes, there’s just so much bureaucratic nonsense going on that you can’t even contact your civic leaders, let alone make anything happen.

I’ll admit, this is a tough one.  I’ll just say that persistence is so important if you can see the value in a partnership with the city.

Lack of Creativity

If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously not the type of person who feels a need to just do things the traditional way.  You’re probably innovative by nature.

When something does work, when you’re hitting your head against the wall, you find a new solution.

So instead of giving up when the red tape seems to get in your way, you might go through the back door and try to meet that busy city councilman at a community function so that you can start a relationship naturally.

When something does work, you find a new solution. #innovation Click To Tweet

Instead of building a program which your church can’t afford to help people who don’t know you exist, you’re willing to partner with someone with more resources and connectedness so that you can get stuff done.

Unfortunately, many church leaders don’t think this way.

But we have to be willing to be creative to see the possibilities which exist in a partnership with the city.

Lack of Vision

train trackBut maybe the problem isn’t creativity.  Maybe it’s a general lack of vision.

We tend to have a pretty small mindset when it comes to the direction of our churches.

And for us in 21st century America, that would mean building churches who focuses on putting on a concert-style worship service and an intriguing sermon, and then filling the room with people until you have to build a bigger building.

But if that’s all there is, then the church is only focusing on the church, and is not serving anyone.  It’s closer to marketing and consumerism than it is to the dynamic form of worship in the early church which centered on serving the community, sharing the gospel, becoming mature in the faith, and then raising up new leaders to pass the gospel on.

We must have a vision for serving the people or we will be ignoring Christ’s command to love your neighbors.

Don’t Let These Things Get in the Way

So open your mind to the possibilities.  You might not do exactly what you thought you’d do, but we gotta remember that it’s not about us.  It’s about the people we are serving.

If you thought you’d come into the city, put up a building and the poor and needy would flock to you and everyone would just believe in Christ, then I daresay it was a naïve way of thinking.

Maybe it will look more like working with the court system so that the judges trust you and as part of sentencing for convicts, they have to come participate in your life-rebuilding program at your church for 6 months, where they will also hear the gospel.

Maybe you’ll have to work alongside social workers as part of their case plans to help people.

But whatever it is, don’t let the obstacles in this article stop you from creating a meaningful relationship with the city in terms of serving your community.

Persevere for the sake of Christ and those He loves.

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