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Understanding Your Community

Last week I shared the importance of knowing and understanding your community.  It is not an accident your church building is where it is.  God has a plan for you to reach your neighborhood and serve those who live closest to your address location.  Unfortunately, many churches lose touch with their neighbors and miss a great opportunity to be a light in the darkness or life raft in the sea of brokenness that surrounds them.  The second part of the Great Commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That cannot happen unless we know them.  As important as it is to exegete Scripture to faithfully interpret and apply its truth, leaders also need to exegete their community and faithfully interpret and apply the gospel with those within their reach.  Fortunately, there are several tools and resources available to help churches understanding their community well.  The MBC makes available to churches wonderful demographic reports that help identify basic information about the population characteristics in their area.  This allows a congregation the ability to see how closely they match the people who live in the neighborhood where their church exist.  Other means of knowing your community are talking with and interviewing government officials, police officers, school administrators, civic leaders, business owners near you.  They will have a valuable perspective on the greatest needs of the community.  Prayer-walking in the neighborhood is a great exercise that combines praying for the Lord to open our neighbor’s hearts as well as opening your eyes to what is obvious and apparent by what you see and hear.   Another valuable tool is using a survey to interview neighbors and explore what concerns and needs they identify that your church might be able to meet.  These tools provide a window that allows you as leaders to exegete the needs and opportunities before you to make an eternal impact on your community.  As an association, we stand ready to help you with any of these tools and strategies.  – Dr. Gary Mathes