So, your Church is thinking and praying about getting involved in the community in some active way beyond supporting other Christian organizations. We may even be thinking about getting involved with other Churches in some type of Partnership that could touch the community with Christ’s love in ways impossible for our church working alone. Whatever the case, here is a checklist that might be helpful.
The Basics – Getting Ready for Action:
- Have we set up a prayer group to pray both for our people and the possibility of our direct involvement?
- History didn’t begin with us! Do we have any sense of how God has done His work in the community in the past? Is there something about that past that we need to know?
- Have we examined our motivation — what’s our real agenda for wanting direct involvement?
- Are we setting up a task force and a plan to communicate this emerging community engagement vision to the wider Church?
Doing the Research – Establishing Expectations:
- What do we know about real conditions in the city or community we have in mind? Who can we talk with in order to get a realistic understanding of the situation? The people who live in the area? The government officials that are responsible for the area? People running social services (hospitals, clinics, schools, etc.) in the area?
- Most of the challenges are large. So, have we chosen a specific objective where we think we can make a difference? Have we set limited, achievable objectives allowing us to know if we are making progress?__ Have we talked with any other churches who are actively involved in the community about their experience, what they have learned and what they might do differently if they were starting over?
- Have we defined what we would like to see in the way of results from our efforts? How do we measure “success?”
- Have we actually spent time walking the streets, knocking on doors, talking with people at all levels in the area of the city God has laid on our hearts? What are those people saying to us?
- What is our timetable and have we broken down our expected outcomes into this timeline?
Making Choices – Where and How to Get Involved?
- Do we have members of our congregation already involved in parts of the city in business, government service, education or other types of activity? Have we drawn them into our discussions and planning? What part might they play in our vision?
- As we assess the human resources in our congregation, are there some obvious (or not so obvious!) ways we could be involved in sharing Christ and meeting felt needs such as medical/health, basic education, community development, job training, aid to the elderly, etc.?
- Is our prayer task force or are others in the church “hearing from God” information that would be helpful — a sense of “call,” dreams, visions, etc.
Setting Up For Success:
- Do we have a task force that will “champion” the vision of ministry in and to the community? Will they help keep the church informed and engaged during the early stages and then into a fulfilling, longer-term connection in the community?
- Are we committed to providing information through frequent communication with the congregation?
- Is our prayer team providing the basis for all we are doing and can we feed that prayer team the information they need to be effective?