If we as Christians are going to be salt and light in the world, we’re going to need to actually encounter the world. There was a time when many churches sought to be self-contained communities that helped their members minimize contact with the outside world. Those days seem to be fading away, but how can we connect with the community that we are called to serve? Here’s a few simple ways to reach out to your community:
1. Join a civic group or service organization. Joining civic groups such as Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, or Kiwanis, gives you the ability to connect with other leaders in your community. Participation in these groups also can give you insight into the needs of the community. Through an organization called Leadership Sumner, I have been able to discover so many needs in our county and city.
2. Connect with other churches. A great deal more can be done when churches work together. I’ve seen this in our student ministry network, our pastors’ association, and through cooperation with FCA. Connecting with other churches allows us to pool wisdom and resources in an effort to better serve our communities. It can be awkward navigating some of the peripheral theological differences, but those side issues should not keep us from increasing God’s kingdom.
3. Serve a local school. Schools have immense needs. They need adults who will serve as mentors, classroom volunteers, and landscapers. When you serve a school, you are impacting the lives of so many students. One note: When we serve the schools, we do so in accordance with the rules of that school system which typically means that we serve without proselytizing or pushing our faith. We can let our desire to serve speak for our Christlike love for others.
4. Get to know your neighbors. One of the easiest ways that you can serve your community is to reach out to those who live next door or down the street. Letting your neighbors know that you are there if they need you can go a long way in creating opportunities for service. Consider getting neighbors together for a cookout or a neighborhood block party.
Any investment in your city has a huge payoff. How will you take the first step out into a city that needs you?