One of the reasons community relations is so near and dear to my heart is I have seen firsthand how God can work through His people to impact a community, and then a state and then a nation with this kind of effort. A catch-phrase today is “missional.”
Are we being missional? Are we a missional church? We want to be a missional people. Missional is scriptural and what we have been called to be. I would suggest that nothing is more missional than a Christian Community Relations Campaign and understanding what it means and why it should be pursued.
No organization worth its salt (and we are called to be salt) is ashamed to get engaged and participate in the community. They are members of social organizations, committees and other entities which positively impact the community. We complain about no prayer in school or at athletic events, but I would ask “When was the last time we had representation at a school board meeting or took the Principal to lunch?”
I appreciate Campus Crusade for Christ’s model of evangelizing college students, because there is no doctor, lawyer, banker, teacher, judge, coach or engineer who has not earned a college degree. Campus Crusade understands the difference between an outreach ministry and making organizational in-roads. We are no longer just a beacon on a hill which is attractive to those in need. As the old saying goes, “No one will care how much we know until they know how much we care”.
An argument I often hear is “All those people in community leadership and organizations are already churched, or they don’t care because they’re playing golf on Sunday mornings.” How do we know? If we don’t engage them and let them know who we are and what we can do for them, as organizations and individuals, then someone else will – and I can assure you, THAT “someone else” cares not about their eternity. If these needs were already being met, as some suggest, then why are the number of funerals performed at funeral homes on the rise?
Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, City Councils, State Capitols, Arts Councils, Parade Committees, Country Club boards, charities…..we should be participating, infiltrating and impacting them for the kingdom. We want “trickle down” mission-omics. Some would say “It will have no affect on our church growth or even get more people through our doors.” I would counter with “Neither do the efforts in Africa or India or Poland or Tibet…..but that doesn’t prevent us from sending people in a very missional way.”
When we were kids, we used to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers”, now we sing “If I could sit with You a while….” See the difference? No longer can we expect folks to walk in our doors simply because we exist and have extra room in the pews.
My study of the scriptures reveals Christ preaching many parables about going out, engaging the community, not burying talents, bringing people in to dinners and banquets, finding harvest workers, looking for sheep and coins and celebrating the return of lost brothers as well as even engaging and confronting our enemies with grace and love.
This is much different than an outreach program where you canvass a neighborhood or apartment complex. This is relational. It also calls for us to be accountable and walk the walk as well as talk the talk. This effort may take years to bear fruit. We want to be the ones who offer the banquet prayer or are invited to the social function to represent righteousness and peace. Our salt should make our community thirsty for Living Water and our light should reveal The Well .