As pastors, I believe that we understand the truth that our church is a part of the Church. We know that we represent one very small part of what God is doing in our city, our region and in our country. That being said I think, as a group, we’ve struggled with what it means to live that out.
The easiest way has been to focus on our sliver, help people grow in their faith in our local communities and do what we can to support the missionaries who reach beyond our “territory”. We do not see the church down the street as competition, we recognize that we are on the same team but the truth is, unless we work at it, we are somewhat oblivious to what our follow churches are doing or working on.
We know that passively we are part of the Church in our city, but how do we become an active player?
Before we jump in, I must give credit to the Luis Palau Association. They have been a catalyst in Portland by creating an environment where we as churches can realize our role in the capital “C” church. But what we have learned here can be applied anywhere.
The key skill necessary to being a part of the Church in your city is the same as it has been through this entire series. Understanding your unique contribution as a church is not only key to you realizing opportunities in your church, but it is also key to understanding your church’s opportunities in your city.
The question is, how do you begin to recognize what your church is great at?
Much like during adolescence, it’s tough to recognize your church's strengths without experimentation. The easiest way is to start. In "Evaluating New Ministry Ideas” we did the work to better understand the needs of our community. As a result, you may have started to entertain the idea of starting a new ministry. You may have also discovered problems/needs that you aren’t completely equipped to tackle.
This is a great place to start.
Gather a handful of pastors and church leaders in your area and present the needs you have discovered. As you do this, take Andy Stanley’s advice and let the group wrestle with the problem. Don’t offer a solution. Allow the leaders around the room to gravitate to a solution based on each church’s sweet spot.
As you begin to tackle these needs in a group context, just like in adolescence, you will begin to discover what your church is uniquely gifted and positioned for.
Very often the Senior leader of a church is also the one who the church most resembles. Spending time investing in relationships with other Lead Pastors can help you to understand how your church can best contribute. Understanding the strengths and abilities of the Pastor down the street can help you engage another church in a project that would deploy their strengths.
The same is true for your church. The better you understand the strengths and abilities of your senior leadership the better you can be at offering those strength when tackling community issues.
Being a part of the city in your church is really about understanding that your city is your common playing field. We have a bigger impact as a whole when we recognize the value in each other and offer what only we can offer.
When it comes to serving the homeless in your city, it doesn’t matter how your church feels about Cessationism vs. Continuationism. Serving together doesn't require us to see eye to eye.
We can work together, whether in collaboration or in coordination, we can be the Church.