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How One Church Re-engaged the Neighborhood

What can we do to survive?

Missional DaycareThus began a conversation ten years ago with a dying church in a transitional neighborhood.

The church invited me to do some Evangelism Consulting with them about launching a new worship service.

That topic was the buzz of the time and the church leaders simply assumed that launching a new worship service was needed.

The average age of church members was 60, and they wanted more young people.

They were in survival mode and needed something new to get new people.

Is a new worship service the answer?

The pastor wanted a new worship service, but the congregational elders didn’t.

It was clear that leadership was divided, so I need to help them see beyond that debate.

I lead them into a brainstorming process.

Out of that process they decided to do a block party.

The congregation organized the block party to get to know their community and build a bridge to it.

They had food, games, inflatables, and so on.

New wave of momentum

They were energized to carry it out.

Church members got excited about the block party and began praying.

Members hung door hangers around the neighborhood and invited the local community to come.

Pastor helped with the momentum building.  It was a big event that spurred some new invitations and energy.

(See How Pastors Lead Congregational Evangelism #4).

The aftermath of the block party

As a result of that block party 10 years ago (and its continued annual repeats) this church has discerned the neighborhood needs.

They have re-engaged the community.

They have launched several new ministries to reconnect with the neighbors:

  • Preschool (now with an annual budget larger than the church’s).
  • Meals on Wheels.
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • And other ministries.

This church has become much more missional in it’s mindset and has lots of new vitality and energy to serve.

As a result, they’ve focused less on the attractional elements and more on the missional elements to help them re-connect with the neighborhood.

See Moving from Attactional to Missional

Here is the key next step:

Now they are being more intentional about actively sharing their faith along with serving the area.

This is where more intentional evangelism training will come into play.

The church needs to engage with actions, but also be able to explain how they are different than the rotary club.

See Is Neighborhood Outreach Evangelism?

Let me ask you this?

What outreach did your church do that helped you re-engage the neighborhood?

What were some fruits that developed out of that connection?

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About EvangelismCoach

Chris wants to help you increase the number of conversations that lead people towards Christ. He has studied evangelism and church growth ever since working for a Billy Graham crusade over 20 years ago, and has led countless training seminars throughout North and South America in many different denominations.

Comments

  1. Chris, I believe churches have to get out of the “If you build it, they will come” mindset. The attractional church usually only pulls in other Christians who are unhappy with their current church. It is not appealing to the lost. The church must go it if it expects the lost to come in. Good post.

  2. Excellent post. Isreal was God’s people- a light to the Gentiles whioh was supposed to draw the nations to Christ. The new Isreal is sent into the nations to bring people to Christ. Thanks.

  3. Our Chicago suburb requires us to build bridges that people are willing to cross 75% of the new people in our church are unchurched who have been touched through one of our bridge events.
    We do a combo block/back to school party. It includes live music (80%secular 20% Christian) food and events for the children.
    We aren’t trying to lead them to the Lord (YET) we just want to become part of their lives, which in turn opens door for sharing the gospel.

  4. Derek Iannelli-Smith says:

    Good article. Reminds me of some other influences recently Tim Chester/Steve Timmis and Frank Viola’s work. The total church conference recently done at Kaleo (audios are on the web) addresses this topic very well. It is not either or… it is both…

    If a ‘church’ is going to be missional, then I believe they need to get away from the ‘come and see’ and remember the ‘see and go’ or as we call it at Oasis…. drink and go… investing in people without an agenda other than to participate in God’s plan to move onto the next step takes time.

    I am not talking about friendship evangelism, I am talking about intentional gospel-centered evangelism.

  5. Makes perfect sense (now here is the “but”) What if the congregation isn’t willing to re-engage? I see many churches close their doors in my denomination each year because they won’t, can’t, or say they don’t have the “right” pastor (leadership) to do so. Sounds like leadership from within the church (laity) needs to embrace the Holy Spirit’s leading?

  6. @Don

    Thanks for sharing what your church does. Building relational bridges are still important for attractional models as well as churches working the missional culture. I think healthy churches need both.

    @Derek
    Thanks for pointing out the both/and. I’ve been reading The Tangible kingdom and it contains many of these same themes. Currently planting a church from scratch and working the missional angle as we are still small.

    @elliot
    I’ve seen congregations that won’t re-engage. I’ve seen Pastors try to lead, but they don’t want to follow — one party eventually leaves. I’ve seen pastors work to help bring the grumblers along, but Crandalls work shows that after the pastor leaves, the church stumbles again.

    Thanks all for sharing your thoughts. Keep it up . .

  7. Great post!

    So the church used an “attractional” to get to “missional!” Common sense tells me making it attractional VERSUS missional, or making them mutually exclusive is wrong. It’s not an either/or, it’s both/and…

    I’m not at all surprised to see that churches that really are engaging their communities and reaching people for Christ are doing some of both.

  8. Great post, Chris. Block parties are a great way to reach out in many neighborhoods. The church can help build and restore relationships.

  9. Perlengkapan bayi dan baju bayi Murah says:

    Thanks like your Missional involvement in the Local Neighborhood

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