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Knowing Your Community

A few years ago, I went to help a church in a small town in central Missouri.  My GPS landed me in a bank parking lot, so I went to a nearby McDonald’s and asked those helping me if they knew where this church was.  They did not.  I went across the street to a C-Store and asked several people there if they knew.  No one did.  Finally, the person who originally contacted me called and I let them know I was trying to find them.  They asked where I was, and I told them at the C-Store across from McDonald’s.  “Oh, well look out the window to the right and you should see our steeple.”  This was not a big town, but those who worked within a few blocks of the church didn’t know it existed.  The church I was helping thought they knew their town, but their town didn’t know them.  One of the key principles of living on mission is the capacity to know the people you are trying to reach.  I believe God has located your church exactly where He wants it in order to reach the people that live within your shadow.  A good but maybe difficult question that must be answered is: “If your church ceased to exist, would your neighborhood know it or miss your presence?”  To make an eternal impact on the community we reside in it is imperative to get outside the four walls and into the life and activity of your community.  It is then that you begin to understand the needs around you and how to address them with gospel solutions.  Next week I will share ways you can get to know your community well in order to better serve them.  

 – Dr. Gary Mathes