Ready Set Grow 2.5

I'm really chewing on this thought tonight. It's not a verbatim quote, but what I think is a reasonable paraphrase of the intent of something I heard during training today. I'd love to hear thoughts on this one.

It’s too difficult to reach out to a broken and devastated neighborhood if you don’t have enough people who are not dealing with brokenness and devastation in your church. You might have to change the area you go to to invite new members so that you'll better be able to serve your close neighborhood in the long run.

1 comment:

calvin said...

I agree with that. Not all congregations are ready, WILLING, and able to actively minister to real people in their midst. It is one thing to talk about loving the needy, sharing the love of God with the broken, unloved people of the world, while comfortable at church without any people like that in your midst. It helps a great deal if your congregants have themselves already been involved in mission or outreach work: they know what to expect and the "ice" has been broken if you will. Still, the shock of having new people in your church, in larger numbers than usual, can be a real challenge, esp. if they are "different".

Here are a couple of examples: Paul Scanlon of abundant life church in London had much of his congregation leave when he started a bus program to bring inner city folks into his very old congregation. They had been praying for help for the needy for decades, but when the needy arrived they panicked. Now his church is a thriving place of love for all.

At my UCC church in Kirkland Washington (just outside Seattle), we have been working with interfaith and ecumenical groups for local food banks, homeless, and other action-oriented charities for years. When a couple years back a local mobile homeless camp lost their permit to move to a local church, we stepped forward and hosted them in our parking lot for several months. It went very well, even though not many did join us for services, we had a lot of success providing meals, coats, whatever they needed in short notice, and whomever showed up in the pews on Sunday was warmly welcomed and still is to this day.

So I would say it helps A LOT if your folks are used to working with the needy and broken, but if they aren't, they can be trained through church-sponsored outreach, or another "trial/training" neighbourhood outreach first, as the quote suggests. Be prepared for challenges if you just let it happen. Preaching/praying and practice are sadly often unrelated!