Engaging the Community

Today’s post is brought to you by the following definition I read in the preview to a book I am reading “On the Verge: A Journey into the Apostolic Future of the Church” The definition of missional church was used by Reggie McNeal as he wrote an introduction to the book

The missional church engages the community with the intent of being a blessing. It looks for ways to connect with the world beyond the walls of church real estate and programming.

Three words stand out to me in this definition. Engages, Blessing and Connect.

Engages – Too often, the church does for the community or does to the community instead of engaging with the community. I know the church is not supposed to be “of the world” but too many times we are not “in the world” either. We tend to stay in our little corner of the community doing our own stuff.

Blessing – When the church does engage with the community, does the term blessing come to mind. Service YES, meeting needs YES, being a blessing ??? I guess the reason I wonder is that to me the term blessing carries connotations of not only physical or emotional gifts.  The word blessing is a “holy” word, a word used of God and by God. When we say we engage with the community with the intent of being a blessing, are we engaging with the community with God’s intent and purpose in mind?

Connect – Beyond the walls and beyond the programming – in other words, get to truly know our neighbors. Relate to them simply for the reason they are one of God’s children – whether they realize it or not. And then show them God through our love and kindness. “They will know we are Christians by our Love” How many times, do we plan events, programs, ministries with the goal of reaching “X” amount of people and when we don’t get to “X” we are disappointed.

Let me finish with a story: Over the past three days a youth group from a church in North Carolina, who have spent the week at Global Youth Ministries, has come down to our fellowship hall to lead Bible Club for the children of the community. I felt bad, because we had not advertized this Bible Club as heavily as we had before and it seemed that first afternoon there were more members of the youth group than kids at the Bible Club. However, over the past three days, they seemed to have had a good time. Today, their youth pastor told me this story. First of all, he said that his kids had fallen in love with the children this week and in fact one young man, who had just moved to America from Liberia 9 months ago (he only spoke broken English) came up to the youth pastor and said that his parents had given him $60 to spend on their trip but that he didn’t need anything, that these kids needed it more than he did. His youth pastor said that all of the kids starting digging in their wallets & Purses and started handing him money (One middle schooler came up and handed him a $20 while I was standing there)

Wow! I’ll leave you with a question?  Who received the blessing when this youth group engaged the community?

 

 

Ferguson, Dave (2011). On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church (Exponential Series) (Kindle Locations 127-128). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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