I believe the days of most people showing up to church on at least Easter and Christmas are over. The leaders of today’s church must move from the office out into the community in order to reach their community.
All through Jesus’ earthly life, He set a great example of how we are to go out into the community to be among the people. In Luke 2:46, we read how, as a young boy, He did not even follow his parents back home after the Festival of the Passover, but instead stayed behind in Jerusalem. He was with the people, sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions.
“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” -Luke 2:46
Even in the calling of His disciples we see how they did not come to him, rather He went to them.
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee.
Finding Philip, He said to him, ‘Follow Me’.” -John 1:43
In Luke 5:1-11, we see Jesus get into the fishing boat at the Sea of Galilee with Simon and His partners. Then it says in verse 11, “so they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.”
Jesus was a minister TO His community, not just IN His community. He was not a man who just walked around and spoke kindly to people…He was a man who made a huge, life-changing impact everywhere He went and with every person He engaged with.
So how do we Become a Ministry TO the Community NOT JUST in the Community?
1. Organize your life well:
If you are not diligent with your time, you will miss great opportunity in your days. Plan out your days from the time you get up: spending time with the Lord, lunch meetings, study time, staff meetings, and even with your family time. Be sure all your spouse’s and children’s activities are on your calendar and planned out.
Those who don’t plan out their life lose. A well planned life gives you time to accomplish all you need to accomplish without sacrificing what is truly important. Schedule time spent outside of your office as much as your time in the office, even if it is just driving around and meeting new people in the community.
2. Build community relationships:
Get to know the leaders in your community even if they do not go to your church.
Serve all the community, not just the members of your church within the community. Serving others gains favor with others.
3. Make the most of your lunch appointments:
Here are a few ideal lunch appointments to do once a week.
- Your spouse
- Staff members
- Key volunteers
- Key church leaders in your ministry
4. Show up to key ministry events:
- Youth pastors should attend school events WHERE THE STUDENTS ARE (e.g., football or basketball games, band concerts, school lunches, etc.).
- Adult pastors should attend all key store openings or huge moments in the life of a church member at their place of employment, along with banquets to support the people. Attend your volunteer’s children’s events and visit people in the hospital.
- Children’s pastors should attend school lunches, kids’ sporting events, piano/voice recitals, etc.
The key is learning how to show up to show support and yet slide away to leave without staying the whole time. There is an art to it, and if you can master it, then you will have more time in your life for personal and family time.
5. Follow the local news:
Middle School Pastor John Steen at Long Hollow Baptist Church follows when middle school students in the community are in the newspaper. He prints that article out, laminates it, and then sends it with a signed personal note from him letting them know how proud he is of them. The same can be done for kids, students, and adults.
In addition, for adults, most hallway talk comes from current events that have happened that week. It may be the local high school football game or a current event, but if you don’t know what went on, then you look like you’re not keeping up with the community you live in.
Don’t hear me wrong...I am all about excellence, hard work ethic, and believe 100% in quality sermon prep/study time, and office work. The people you minister to deserve the BEST from you, which requires you working diligently for them in your study time. However, I don’t believe we should use our “study time” as an excuse to shut ourselves in our offices and not to minister to the people that we’re called by God to shepherd, regardless of how difficult or complicated they can be.
May we minister well with the time we’ve been given, getting out from within the four walls of our offices, and loving people well within the community God has placed us in.