By Chuck Lawless
If you read this blog much, you know my heart for the nations that don’t know Christ. At the same time, though, Jesus called us to reach our Jerusalem – our community where we live – even as we go to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Here are some simple ways to move your congregation in that direction:
- Do a demographic study of your community, but then share the specific findings with your church. Great Commission-minded pastors often do this kind of study, but they then strategize without giving their church the demographic details. If you want your church to be burdened about the community, make sure they really know who lives there.
- Ask a local police officer to take your leaders on a driving tour of your community. You might be surprised what you learn. Years ago, I didn’t realize how little of my community I knew until I became a firefighter who had to know the city well.
- Invite local school leaders to talk with your church. They face the community’s needs every day. They can tell you about multiple languages spoken in the home, about children who have little to eat, about grandparents now raising their grandchildren. They’ll also let you know how your church might help local schools.
- Invite leaders of ethnic churches in your community to speak to your church. Ask them to introduce your congregation to their culture, their needs, their struggles, and their lostness. Help your church to see the nations living among them.
- Map the homes of your church members so they see their Great Commission assignment. Make the map big, and place it in a prominent place. Show your folks that it’s not an accident they live where they live; they need to love, pray for, and reach out to their neighbors.
- Do community prayer surveys. They’re easy to do: knock on doors, talk to people at work or school, visit with people at the store and ask the simple question: “Our church is praying for our neighbors. How might we pray for you?” Somebody will have a need that begins what could become a witnessing relationship.
- Lead members to develop a prayer list of non-believers. If all your attenders begin interceding for five lost persons, God will somehow move in response to those prayers – and your church will begin developing an outward focus.
- Reach out to the nearest local university. If it’s within driving distance, connect with Christian ministries there (or ask to start one). You might find students – particularly international students – who are seeking genuine relationships.
- Send out your church as witnesses with a testimony. On a Sunday morning, prioritize teaching your attenders how to share their testimony simply, and then challenge each of them to share that story with at least one person that week. Even if only 50% actually do it, that’s a lot more outreach going on than the week before.