One of the things as ministers that we must do is to get to know and become a part of the communities in which God has placed us. We live in a time when some bigger named speakers seem to be gathering following of ministers, who take their ideas and sometimes their very words home to their own churches. However, we cannot simply copy the ideas or the words and expect the results gained for another church in another town. The idea of franchising faith doesn’t quite work the same as franchising the fast food industry. While it may appeal to some, it misses meeting the needs of the community we have been called.
What is needed by ministers in our world is to get to know the community in which God has placed us. We cannot do this by sitting in our offices, or simply praying in the solitude of our sanctuaries. We can only do this as we get involved with people in the community and make friends and acquaintances in the community. We must spend some sincere time getting to know the people, their needs, and what appeals to them. Then we can move beyond merely having a message to share, and into sharing faith in living with them.
This may mean that we will need to do some things that we would never have dreamed of doing. We may find ourselves standing working alongside of a construction worker, when we have absolutely now talent at construction. It may be that we will find ourselves sitting in a boat or in a chilly deer blind; even if we have never had the desire to get into the great outdoors before. To be a part of a community means following the school sports, helping at the local food pantry, drinking coffee at the community hang out.
When planning outreach events we are not planning events for the people of the church, which sometimes is hard to convince some of our own regular attendees at times. This may mean that we will find ourselves planning events for or alongside of local antique tractor clubs, car clubs, or even motorcycle clubs. There could be any number of local groups that even small churches can work alongside of in doing community outreach events. Through these kinds of events many people may come into contact with the love of Christ and Christian community in a new way. Some may even come to be a part of your ministry over time.
The greatest need of any ministry is to let the Holy Spirit lead you. We need to be sensitive as we plan and work with others to what God is telling you to do for your specific church. This past summer I had was feeling led to reach out to our local farmers to show them that we care and pray for them on a regular basis. I was praying about this when a retired farmer, whom I see nearly every day at a local coffee shop, approached me with the idea of a tractor show. The end result was that two months later we had a joint service and picnic with a few area churches, with a tractor show. We also had a time of prayer and blessing for the fall harvest. Many people said they wanted to do it again next year.
Many of the people who came to the event were not regular attendees of any of our local churches, including the man who approached me with the idea. Sometimes God answers our prayers even as we are praying. If we are sure to seek God He will help us to see where the best areas of influence will be. When the Spirit is moving even those we may not have thought of may be the very vessels that God will use to bring others in contact with Him.
Keep your eyes, heart, and mind open to where God is leading you to reach out in your community. Who knows you may get to make some new friends, and have some great adventures as you serve the greater purpose of Kingdom building.
- Blessings on the Journey with Christ