You Can't Grow
If You Don't Know
Your ability to minister in your community
is dependent on your understanding of it.
You’ve got a lot of people in your neighborhoods who need Jesus. And more, they need to be loved by his people – to see and be seen.
There are many reasons why it’s important to know your neighbors, but here are the three that are most common and most important.
1) Meeting Needs
You can’t effectively meet the needs of your community if you don’t know what they are. See if this scenario seems realistic. One of your leaders saw how another church across town used their parking lot to host an antique car show on the first Saturday of every month. It started drawing a pretty big crowd so the church began giving away water bottles and popcorn. Before they knew it, a lot of the people who attended the car show started coming to church.
If it worked for them, maybe it’d work for you. So you give it a shot, unaware that most of the people in your surrounding area are either young professionals or families in lower-income brackets; neither of which have any interest in classic cars. And thus, you missed the mark.
2) Sharing Faith
If you don’t know your neighbors, you can’t speak their language.
If you came across a person who had grown up attending church services, maybe got confirmed in the Church, and perhaps even still dropped in on special holidays and occasions, you’d probably fall right in line with “Christianese” speak when sharing your faith. You might refer to biblical events with the assumption they had heard the story before. You might use words like “Trinity” or “Baptism” or “Communion.” And you’d be hitting home, probably making some great points that would help that person grow in their faith.
Now, imagine you’re speaking with a person who grew up in a secular home, had no understanding of the Bible, much less the God it describes, and thinks Trinity is simply the name of a character in a sci-fi movie. How effective would your appeals of deeper belief be?
3) Overcoming Obstacles
People will always find reasons to hate the Church.
It’s essential for the people in your community, especially the ones who don’t like you, or God, to at least understand your intentions. What’s more, you need to understand their motivations.
When you start to see that most of their opposition is based in fear, it helps you craft responses that inspire confidence. When you know the specifics of why they fear, hate, and malign, it helps you pinpoint the exact thing you need to say or do to either find peace or move past.
The Ultimate Goal
Understanding the nuance of your neighborhood is not a perfect science. And it’s unwise to stay up at night worrying about what everyone else is thinking about your church. Don’t do that.
However, with a little work, you can discover more about who you are ministering to so you can reach more people, bless more families, lead more people to faith, and watch the health and growth of your church and your community soar.