Connecting with Your Community — Part 3 (Applications)
In October, I had the opportunity to do a break out session at The Sticks Conference. The topic of my talk was “How to Connect with Your Community’s Gatekeepers.” Here is the third and final part of my notes.
As a summary of my breakout session, I’ve already given a Biblical Framework (Part 1) and Practical Principles (Part 2). In this post, I’ll give the final practical principle (Good Deeds), list some potential applications, and also give some helpful resources.
Note: “Helpful Resources” means those people that I
borrowed stole ideas from, and I need to mention them so I don’t get sued for all kinds of money that I don’t have.
Good Deeds –> Good Will –> Good News
Of course, neither meeting physical needs nor developing leaders is the goal for God’s kingdom. Any disciple of Christ wants to see others receive His salvation. But in our culture, the opportunity to be heard must be earned. Good deeds are not the ultimate end, but a means to the end.
You want people to come to know and trust in Jesus. You want to see life change happen. But discipleship and life change happen when you combine the gospel truth with relationships.
Here are the questions to ask: If your church didn’t exist, who would miss you? Which organizations in your community would suffer?
Do you want the chance to share God’s truth and love with the leaders in your community? You get this opportunity through connecting with them and serving them. Go to the city, school, organization, etc, and ask, “How can we serve you and your organization? What do you need?”
Over time, as you do those good deeds, you gain good will in their eyes, which gives you opportunities (and credibility) to share the Good News.
Of course, I’m inclined towards working with children, so most of my examples follow that. But I also think that serving children is a great way to earn credibility among parents, schools, and other leaders.
But what if, for example, you don’t have children in the school that your church plans to serve? From my personal experience, you can (and should) still help. (Last year, I had the unique mixture of teaching at a private school, working for the public school district, and we home school our children. It’s really not that complicated, when the goal is to bless others. After all, students are More Alike Than Different.)
Here’s a list to get you started:
- Provide school supplies for teachers
- Mentor in the schools (an especially great Gameplan for Poverty)
- Teacher assistant (in the classroom or behind the scenes)
- Provide a site for summer feeding program (for high-poverty areas)
- “Adopt-a-grandparent” at a nursing home or assisted living facility
- Take part in (or lead) a community work day
- Go to School Board or City Council meetings (sit in and be seen; speak only occasionally and with graciousness)
- Eat breakfast at a specific restaurant once per week
Verge Network (for the missionally-minded)
Michael Hyatt (great leadership blog)
- Why Christians Should Serve Outside the Church
- A Vision for Allendale: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
- Be a Part of God’s Renewal in Your Neighborhood
- Community and Mission Everywhere
**image courtesy of eocs via sxc.hu