Its Monday and pastors all over the country are taking a deep breath from the events of the weekend while simultaneously shifting their focus to the week ahead and another weekend of events. Central to the message of Christ is the idea of invitation…the invitation into a relationship with Jesus. For pastors, and our churches, this includes a strategic approach to inviting people to come to weekend services from our communities, but not everyone in our congregations are natural inviters.
At the same time, many people in our communities do not want to come to church, and a simple invitation doesn’t work always work the way it did 20 years ago when Christianity was like a shared operating system running behind the lives of most Americans. Today, many Americans do not associate with a Christian worldview and an invitation to church is like inviting an African tribesman to an amusement park: there is no clear concept of what it is and no clear reason why they would want to go. This is how many of our co-workers and neighbors see the church. As my pastor has done a great job of sharing over the last several weeks, it comes down to building a relationship with those we intersect with as we go through our everyday lives.
As pastors, though, it can seem frustrating to encourage members of our faith communities to reach out to their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members and engage them in relationships only see a few actually follow through. For many, to be extroverted and boldly reach out to people in the community can be difficult, challenging, and outside of their natural personalities. At the same time, reaching out to people in a relational way can awaken fears, hurts, and apprehensions that require God’s healing to take place.
For others, they want to engage people but they aren’t sure how. They don’t feel they have a home that is either logistically feasible or aesthetically pleasing enough to have people over. They need ideas of ways to live life with others, engage people, and create a bridge to relationships.
So, here is a list of ways individuals, ministries, and small groups of all kinds can engage their communities and build relationships.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list, and there are many people with a lot more creative ideas out there. As pastors, it is our responsibility to cast vision, to encourage and motivate, and to “equip the saints” with the tools they need to carry out God’s vision.
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Feel free to share other ideas in the comments of how you have engaged your community. The more ideas we all have the more effective we will be in advancing God’s Kingdom.