It’s only December but, we’re already thinking about resolutions. Some will focus on dieting (when sweet potatoes are deep fried they no longer qualify as a vegetable, by the way) and others may focus on traveling, learning a new hobby or reading more. We know statistically that most of these resolutions will be broken.
Regardless of what your list may include I invite you to add one more challenge: become an expert on your church’s community.
This may not seem like a goal worth listing. You may have been pastoring in the same place and living in the same community for many, many years. You may already feel qualified as a bona fide expert on everything and everyone within your neighborhood. Yet, the challenge remains the same. New Jersey is one of the most diverse and transient states in the country and the vital ministry depends on consistent and intentional rediscovery of our very own communities. What and who we think we know is always shifting like sand at the Jersey shore. Therefore, it is our blessing and burden to look for what’s come in with the tide each day.
To guide us in this challenge try these resolutions for 2016:
- Become the welcoming committee: When new families and business come into town, make it your business to welcome them to the neighborhood. Develop leaders who will personally bring gifts and greetings to new neighbors. Before inviting them to service sincerely ask how you may help their transition or support their new venture.
- Invest in conversation: A lead pastor in the Midwest noticed that one of the most populated places in his town was the Starbucks down the street. He asked his finance team to slash his continuing education budget and apply that money to a Starbucks gift card. Over the course of the year he had 134 “coffee conversations” with people from the church and “unchurched” people at the Starbucks. 53 people went on to visit and join the congregation. Where is the critical gathering place in your community? How can you develop it as your mission field?
- Take a walk, then take it again: Don’t worry this is not a ploy to get you to exercise! Yet, walking (running or cycling) through your community on a regular basis is a simple and effective way to stay acquainted and present. What and who do you notice along the route? What people may you connect with? What places may God’s mission be moved to?
Your resolutions are simply a list of the many new things God is calling you to. What are your resolutions for your community? In 2016, may you find space to discover and rediscover your community- again.
We’re in this together,