It’s a typical sight: a church gathers in a building, sings songs, listens to a sermon, greets one another, perhaps shares a potluck meal, and then disperses. This happens on Sundays or Tuesdays or maybe even over a weekend in what is called a “Revival Time.” It may have a different title, but it’s pretty much the same pattern: arrive, sing, listen, greet, eat, etc.
And all this happens behind the four walls of a building.
However, most of your community never darkens the doors into your building. And they have no intention of doing so anytime soon.
So, what are we to do? Keep repeating this pattern and hope blind people figure out how to see? Keep gathering behind the walls and hope that people figure out they can and should come in? Or do we adopt a “beyond the walls” mindset that has us intentionally reaching out beyond the walls into the community?
Here are 3 ways your ministry can develop a “beyond the church walls” approach to ministry:
1. Pray into it.
a) Pray for your community. Every time you gather, pray specifically for people, events, and places in your community. Pray for businesses, schools, seniors, hospitals, first responders and your elected leaders.
b) Pray in your community. Get out of the church and go to a school, the local business main street, city hall or a prayer walk and pray. Listen to what God is saying about your community as you pray.
c) Pray with your community. Let the people you are praying for know that you are praying for them. Create a prayer Facebook post and invite people to respond. Prayer works and you can pray for people in your community.
2. Plan for it.
a) Build your budget around reaching your community. Plan to spend 20-30% of your budget not on your own people. Create events and opportunities to bless people who don’t attend your church.
b) Build your knowledge of your community. Do demographic studies. Interview people in your community. Make relationships with other community builders and get to know the needs and realities of your community. Know who is in your community and how you can reach them.
c) Build bridges into your community. Form relationships with community builders. Host block parties and courses to help reach your community. Don’t think of yourselves as “doing outreach;” think of it as, “building bridges of connection and relationship.”
3. Partner with God in it.
Once you pray and plan, begin to do with the Holy Spirit. Remember you are not alone, and He is with you always. God will teach you, empower you, give you favor, and make a way for you.
This is the life beyond the walls. It’s time to start today.