Won't You Be My Neighbor? A Guide to Reaching Out to Your Community

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Church Juice provides congregations with free resources, articles, and opportunities for training and consulting on church communications. Church Juice is a ministry of Back to God Ministries International, the media mission of the CRCNA.

Find Your People

Whether your church is in the middle of a huge metropolis or it’s on the outskirts of a tiny town, you have plenty of opportunities to reach out to the people living in your area. If your church desires to reach the people in your community take the first step and extend a welcome to your neighbors. Here are some ways your church may want to consider:

Host a Community Event

Everyone loves a block party! Find a creative way to create events for your community to be a part of. Invite community members to a fun afternoon or evening filled with opportunities for building relationships.

Volunteer Often

Your church is made up of people with all sorts of gifts and talents, and they can use those talents to help others. Find local events or organizations that need help and get to work.

Join Your Neighbors

You are part of your community—so be a part of it! Attend local events, get to know local business owners, and take time to cultivate relationships with community leaders.

Bring Your People In

Invite New People to Special Events or Services

Do you have a special Back-to-School service? Does your children’s ministry always perform a song for Christmas? These types of events are perfect opportunities for church members to ask their neighbors to join them. Take it a step further and get to know them better as you enjoy a cup of coffee together after the service or event.

Invite New People to Life Groups and Meetings

If your church has a moms group, senior adults luncheon, weekly meeting of college students, or some other lifestyle-type group, don’t keep it to yourselves—invite your community to join you! This is a great way to minister to people who are seeking community but may feel unsure where to begin. As you invite your neighbors to be part of these groups, take the time to get to know them and ask how you can pray for them.

Be Present

Communicating with your community may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Your church should be an integral part of its neighborhood which means you have endless opportunities to reach out to those around you. Your authentic efforts to get to know your community will enable you to cultivate deep Christ-centered relationships. Even better—these new relationships will only flourish as you continue to invest more time and effort into them.

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Participant

These are great ideas. This summer we've been doing Wednesday Night Fun Night. We started with mini-golf on the lawn. Made up our own course through the lawn (cut the grass shorter), had youth group students create and decorate the holes, and used regular putters and racquetball balls! It was a hit. Last week we had our 2nd annual puzzle competition and added a cornhole tournament. This week we are creating a huge slip-n-slide! Next week is a little more subdued with canvas painting. We've seen quite a few neighbors who aren't members attend the events. Probably 50/50.

I'm confused because I see this type of communication in many places, too many places (books, articles , pod casts etc.) the idea that "If your church desires to reach the people in your community ..." (then) do this or that. 

My confusion is generated around my understanding of the great commission.  I just do not, or have I ever, come across the same idea in the teachings of Jesus or the Bible.   Maybe we in our present cultural systems are trying to be some kind of softer, kinder body of Christ.  It just seems that when the Lord commanded his people tho go and get involved with all peoples in such a way to make disciples, "reach the people in in your community" then the idea is not an If.

 

Hi Bob, I hope your having blessed day! I don’t think the author assumed it was a option to follow the great commission but used the word “ if” instead of when or just saying here are some helpful tips for witnessing. It’s a figure of speech. Thx 

Guide

I completely agree. And unfortunately I have seen churches that are not interested in reaching their communities. Or they think that by advertising their great youth program that will somehow attract new members. Several years ago a pastor told me that in their context their neighbors would no sooner come to their church's special program than someone would go to a mosque that advertised a special program.

It takes personal connections and witnessing in today's post-Christian society. I highly recommend Pastor Jim Halstead's Go and Tell seminars.