I often feel a stress about how infrequently I am blogging right now. However, a couple of years ago I began to feel called to administrate a men’s retreat for affiliated churches in my area. This has been where all my extra energy has been going.
Today I have something on my mind in relation to church politics. So, I am preparing to discuss it under my ‘Politics Monday’ category.
One of the strongest choices a church can make is to find ways to build bridges to the community.
But what exactly does that mean? Simply put, it is finding ways to connect with people who do not have a church, and possibly would not normally consider setting foot on church grounds. If a congregation’s only chance to evangelize is to witness to those folks who happen to visit, they will be missing the entire point of the great commission.
When people talk about bridge building they will often center on whether an outreach event is on the grounds of the church or not. And this does have a point to it. A lot of the people we should most want to reach would never attend an event on the church grounds. Not in the fellowship hall, not in the parking lot and absolutely not in the sanctuary. But some will.
Those who would be willing to visit an outreach on the church grounds might well be the low hanging fruit of the great commission, but low hanging fruit needs to be picked too. For this reason, I am not in agreement with those who assert genuine outreach and evangelism cannot take place on church grounds.
However, doing events off the church grounds has tremendous value. Not only will you have a chance to meet people who you will not meet on the grounds, but you will also see the church’s faith stretched and the community’s hearts opened. The church that is seen by community involved people as also being community involved will be their most likely place to land. Furthermore, If you are always standing on the safe ground, were exactly is the faith in that?
But before you dismiss me as being a Pollyanna let me explain that both claims have another side. When you see into the hearts of the community you might well have that tattooed biker chick who wears her pierced earrings everywhere except her ears dropping in on the senior ladies sewing circle. It might mean having a perfectly normal looking teen boy bring his boyfriend on his first visit.
This is about the time when you begin to find that a congregation’s faith can crack or break when it is stretched too far too fast.
I suspect to many people it sounds a little bit like compromising with the world. To others it sounds like polluting the purity of the church with the effluence of unregenerate souls.
So, bridge building is not for the faint of heart. But then again, no part of faithful Christianity is. Real people have real problems and sometimes we get too accustomed to our view of the church as a trouble-free zone. But it was real people for whom Christ died. People with fears; people with flaws. People like you and me.