I spent time giving some evangelism coaching a church yesterday.
The questions of the day revolved around finding and meeting community needs.
A majority of church members are no longer within 5 miles of the neighborhood that has transitioned from blue collar to immigrant. As such, there is not a lot of connection to the local community.
In transformational language, these are called island churches.
This particular one has a food pantry and financial assistance program, but no one who uses these community resources comes back for church.
- What is the missing step?
- What is the disconnect that keeps users of the food pantry from coming to the church on Sunday?
I’m sure there are plenty of factors not revealed in a one hour phone call.
But one factor was clear:
The Sunday service doesn’t meet the community need.
Turning this back into a question:
- What is a community need?
- What is an intermediate step around that need that can connect people?
How can you find out the spiritual needs of your community?
Here are some common ways that I practice and have found great fruit.
1. Prayer walking the area.
Spending time to deliberately and regularly walk a neighborhood while praying gives me great insight into some of the spiritual needs.
- Prayer Walking Made Simple by Dr. Chris Schofield – Available from www.praync.org. See slide show
- PrayerWalking Webinar Replay
- And the Place Was Shaken: How to Lead a Powerful Prayer Meeting, John Franklin
- The life-changing power of prayer by TW Hunt, 2001
- Prayer-Walking: Praying On-Site With Insight by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick
- Prayer Walking: A Journey of Faith
- Follow Me: Becoming a Lifestyle Prayerwalker
- Follow Me : Lessons for Becoming a Prayer Walker
2. Prayer booths at events.
Perhaps you do block parties, job fairs, or other open to the public events. Or maybe you get a booth at the local farmer’s festival, arts and crafts fairs, or some other community fair.
Staff the table with people trained in prayer.
Put a bowl out or maybe a wooden large wooden cross to collect anonymous prayer requests
Have paper for people to write anonymous prayer requests. Use pens with your church logo / contact information as give away.
Use a preprinted form (with church contact info) that asks the question: How can we pray for the community? Give people time to write and stick it in the bowl, or on the wooden cross.
No need for a name / phone number collection unless people want to provide it.
Have your prayer team available for those who want specific prayer and personal prayer at the event. Collect contact information for followup afterwards.
Make a list of community needs based on what people have written.
Figure out how to meet some of those needs.
3. Asking questions of people who drop in for food or funds.
You may already have people dropping by your church outside of Sunday for food, financial assistance.
Take intentional time to sit and listen to their story.
Use questions to find out what the spiritual need is.
These are just 3 ways I’ve seen churches discover community needs.
Offer to pray with them before they leave.
Examples of Discovering Community Needs
See this chart at Re-engaging the Neighborhood, and read about how a church launched a daycare as an out growth from a block party. This church took the time to listen to a community need.
Read about this church that met a community need, but failed to connect with the community. Evangelism that went to the dogs.
Let me ask you this?
What are some ways your church has discovered the needs of the local community?
Share them with us in the comments below.