Remember Mr. Rogers sweetly serenading us with the words, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”
I believe it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood for churches. Pastor Rick McKinley pastors a sizeable regional church in the Portland area called “Imago Dei.” The church is known for using the arts and generosity to build bridges into the Portland culture. Recently in our Superintendent Zoom Meeting with him, he commented that the day of the megachurch might be over. With the rising fuel costs and added time, people are not willing to drive as far to find a church family. More than that, they are looking for community. Big is out. Smaller is in.
Sadly, we have lost our connection with our community. People drive by our buildings daily and may not even know we exist. One of the questions that has plagued me in ministry is, “If our church disappeared tomorrow, would it be missed?”
The good news is that the neighborhood church is in a great place to make a great impact for the Kingdom.
So guess what? Almost all of our churches are embedded in neighborhoods. We began our congregations in smaller, local communities.
So how can we increase our impact and connection with our neighborhood?
- Be a good neighbor! Think about the people who live near your church building. How do they view the church? Are you aware of what is happening in your community? Joining “Next Door Neighbor” may be a good thing for your church. Also, simple things like keeping the landscaping well-kept and the building in good repair communicate that you are a good neighbor.
- Provide an event or class that meets a need in your community. Who is living around your church? What are their needs? One of our churches offers annual parenting and financial classes.
- Open your church for neighborhood meetings. For years our church was the place for the neighborhood association meetings. I heard of one church that offered space for birthday parties and even offered volunteer help for their events.
- Prayer walk. One of our pastors regularly walks his community and prays for each household. While doing that, he has gotten to know people on the way.
- Knock on doors. Pastor Rick McKinley said if he pastored a small church, he would start “knocking on doors” and getting to know the community. It may seem old-fashioned, but get out and introduce yourself. Just get to know them. Ask them if they have any prayer requests, and let them know you are there for them.
- Invite them to a church activity. Summertime is an excellent opportunity to host a BBQ or outdoor movie for your local community. Invite them to a Sunday morning service.
BEFORE YOU GO
Let’s make it a beautiful day in our neighborhood. God placed your church family and facility exactly where it needs to be to make an impact for the Gospel.
What other ways can the church connect with its community? I’d love to hear from you!