Greetings Church Family,
A couple of weeks ago, we started our Project Neighborhood series. Since then, we’ve gone on a couple of prayer walks, met a few neighbors and are busy getting ready for our Block Party (June 23rd), Community Dinner Cookout (July 15th), and VBS (July 16th-20th). I truly hope that you have been diligently praying for our neighborhood and for these ministry opportunities. I believe that if we are faithful, God will use our prayers, walks, and events to help us build relationships with those in our neighborhood.
While at conference this year, I had the privilege of talking with a pastor who is passionate about loving his neighbors. (Check out his church’s video below). He said that they have a very simple definition for church and that everything they do stems from this definition. He said that his vision for the church is to be the “transforming and empowering center for the community.” In other words, church is the place where God’s power is unleashed and where our neighbors are empowered to live full lives. This leads to a simple strategy: find out what the needs and passions are for a neighborhood and simply become a church that meets those needs and shares those passions.
What does our neighborhood care about? What do our neighbors want from a church? What do they think would make a great church? Don’t be quick to answer that, because what you think makes a great church might not be the same as our neighbors. There really is only one way to answer these questions, and that’s by getting to know our neighbors and taking the time to ask them!
At this last community dinner, I took the time to ask one of the people there. I said “What would a great church look like in this community to you?” The guy I asked seemed surprised and a little taken back by the question. I don’t think he was ever asked that by a pastor (or church member) before. I too felt the strangeness in the question, for I had never asked a community member this question before. He later said: “thanks for asking me that, because I’ve thought a lot about it…” In fact, it changed the entire tone of the conversation. This gentleman went on to tell me about the need he sees in families; how families end in divorce and child support; the epidemic of fatherlessness; and how a great church would be doing something to help keep families together. This was just one answer from one person. What would happen if we asked all of our neighbors this question? Would we see a trend? Would be able to better discern ways to make a lasting difference in Defiance? I believe so.
Get to know your neighbors. Come to a community dinner and talk to the visitors who come to eat. Build relationships. Ask them for input. Invite them to join us in God’s mission of transforming and empowering this community.
Joseph David Graves