Engaging Our Communities – Beyond Relocation…
Key Bible Verse: You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? – Matthew 5:13
Bonus Reading: Genesis 13:12-13, 19:9; Genesis 14
Ten years ago I challenged a downtown congregation to change the blighted neighborhood around its church. Members moved in and took seriously the command to love their neighbors as themselves.
Last month I was invited back. The pastor’s son, now an associate, showed me a city map with a blue dot where each church family lived. The blocks around the church were nearly solid blue. “How many members live here now?” I asked, amazed.
“Nearly 250!” he smiled. He had bought a home here. So had his dad and several staff.
“So what’s happened in the community?” I asked eagerly. They’d started an after-school tutoring program, summer camp, ESL classes, a counseling ministry to single moms, he told me. They’d formed a community development corporation and hired a director.
“But has crime gone down?” I persisted. “Has drug trafficking dried up? Has prostitution left? Has education in the schools improved?”
“No,” the young pastor admitted, “not really.”
“Is there a vision for the community?” I pressed. The question drew puzzled looks and more talk of evangelism and getting people into the church. [continued tomorrow]
—Robert Lupton in Renewing the City
My Response: Does my church fill a role in my community beyond evangelism?
Thought to Apply: The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its nonmembers.—William Temple (English diplomat & author)
Adapted from Renewing the City (InterVarsity, 2005)