Building a “Neighborhood Church” Mentality

A dear pastor’s wife friend of mine has been sharing miraculous happenings at her church on her Facebook feed. I am so encouraged whenever I read her posts – and a little envious I have to admit.

I’ve been praying and desiring a move of God’s spirit in my church too. I want to see people saved and filled with God’s Spirit. I want to experience numerical and spiritual growth in our little flock. But things just seem stagnant right now. The rigor mortis of discouragement has set in, effectively paralyzing any outreach we might consider doing..

But God is faithful. I’ve recently been studying how to market my latest book, Daughter of Scarlet, to effectively raise more money for missions that aid human trafficking victims. In the process I’ve been studying social networking.

Two things stand out to me in my studies: the importance of building relationships and giving my readers something of value – a reason to visit my site and to read what I write.

“Why not apply those same teachings to your church?” God always asks THE RIGHT QUESTION!

As I pondered His question, I realized that one of the reasons my friend’s church was succeeding is because they were establishing a neighborhood church. They were building relationships with the people in their neighborhood (one of  the rougher neighborhoods in the city where they live) – the children, the parents of those children who were heavy smokers, drinkers,  tattooed, hooked on drugs and used foul language.

They  did it by offering something of value  to their neighbors. My friend’s church had a block party with a free petting zoo, free activities, free food, etc. They had a “free” rummage sale where they gave each person a bag to fill for free. And they gave away lots of unconditional love.

My friend related a story of a boy from a few blocks away who dragged his father to the block party. The dad was covered with tattoos and had often been rejected by others because of his gruff  appearance. But though he looked rough and “scary” my friend went over and talked to him for several minutes. She watched his countenance change from sullen to friendly, opening up to share his fear of rejection by the church in his neighborhood.

The concept of a neighborhood church isn’t new. Another large church in the same city as my friend’s church has all sorts of outreaches to their neighborhood. They offer free haircuts to the children, they have a food and clothing bank. They recently purchased an old, abandoned church building to renovate and open a community center with activities and other outreach activities.

Conviction began to grow in my heart. Our church wasn’t as neighborhood oriented as these churches. But, being a small church,  we didn’t have the human, financial and program resources to do the same type of outreach as our counterparts. I began to pray again. “Lord what can we do to reach our community? What does our area need? And What resources do we have to meet those needs?”

The answers to these questions are still a prayerful work in progress. But in the next few blogs, I will try to share some of the ideas God has been giving me to try here in our neighborhood as we work to develop a “neighborhood church mentality.”

Your input is welcome and encouraged!

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