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Tuesday Thoughts (4/9/2012)

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher

“I wonder what the value is of having a correct or intelligent or rigorous theology if it isn’t translated into love for God and neighbor. So I’d say it’s not just a matter of one being more important than the other: it’s that the point of theology is spirituality … the point of seeking and understanding God is loving God, enjoying God, being filled with God, and that of course always flows out into the way we treat neighbor, stranger, outcast, outsider, and enemy.”

Brian McLaren/Spirituality or Theology/Apr. 2012

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Tuesday Thoughts (04/03/2012)

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher

Seth Godin once said, “Society changes when we change what we’re embarrassed about.”  (Read his full post HERE.)

I have to believe in this case that what is true for society is true for the church as well.  When we are sufficiently embarrassed at being a part of a church that is disengaged from its neighborhood we’ll  have to change our culture to make engagement the norm.

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Tuesday Thoughts (3/27/2012)

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher

If the church is to truly engage community, it needs to do things with the community.  This takes both time and work but it’s the place where things can really happen for the church and community.

Serving with the community includes being present in the leadership of all kinds of community projects, those both initiated by the church and those initiated by others.  It involves partnering and pooling resources.

What makes with activities especially difficult is twofold.  First, they involve long-term commitment and, therefore, seem to progress slowly.  Second, the church is an equal member of the team; it has influence but not final say or control.

Both of these issues have been the downfall of many churches in their engaging community.  Not following through or not having “veto power” is frustrating to people, especially pastors, whose authority in the community is very different than it is within the church.  Problems rooted in these issues have been the downfall of with activities and have often left the church looking bad in the community.

Taking steps toward working with the community takes courage and strength.  But doing so helps the church be the transforming force it’s called to be.

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Tuesday Thoughts (3/20/2012)

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher

I great way to dip into the waters of engaging community is through joining in with things that are already happening.  In projects include things like having a booth at a neighborhood festival to helping staff the local soup kitchen.

In projects have many benefits.  First, they usually require short-term commitments and minimal financial investments as most are a few hours or weekend long events.  They further provide an opportunity for a high amount of exposure in the community and a chance for the members of the church to interact with lots of other people.  Additionally, in activities provide a great way to get a feel for the community and its needs, thus increasing the potential for the church to engage through quality for activities (see last week’s post for more information on for activities).

The biggest danger with in activities is that churches often stop there.  In activities alone are good, but they’re not enough.  They’re a great way to become acquainted with the community but they are not enough to deeply engage community. It’s the difference between being “those nice folks from the church down the street” to being an integrated, vital part of the community.  The in activity is the beginning, not the goal.

What are some activities already happening in your community you can engage in?

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Tuesday Thoughts (3/13/2012)

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher

One means of engaging community is to do things for the neighborhood.  This type of activity is a good thing but has many pitfalls.

Its prime good point is that it fills a need in the community that would otherwise go neglected.  Sponsoring a block party, running a health fair, cleaning up a park, or providing after-school tutoring are some types of activities that can be done for the community.  The benefits are obvious but the potential pitfalls are often hidden.

Sometimes, a for project can offend a neighborhood, especially if the people of the church don’t live nearby.  No one likes someone coming in to “fix” them and for projects can easily be perceived that way.

With that, a need perceived by the church but not by the neighborhood will lead minimal community attendance at the for activity.  Though the intentions and project may be first-rate, a lot of wasted time, energy, and finances can build discouragement for future activities.

For projects can have tremendous influence in helping the church engage community.  Just know the pitfalls so as to avoid them and make the effort a success.

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Tuesday Thoughts (3/6/2012)

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher Tagged: , , ,

Engaging community involves tasks in three main categories:  for, in, and with.

All three are necessary.  All three have great possibilities and potential pitfalls.

Doing things for the community involves providing services and opportunities that are currently missing.  Through this the church engages the community through addressing an unmet need.

Doing things in the community involves making the church present in existing activities, like having a booth at a local festival or opening the church for neighborhood meetings.  Through this kind of engagement the church becomes a vital member of the community.

Doing things with the community involves finding ways to be an integrated part of the daily life of the community.  In these activities, the church might take the lead but is not necessarily in charge of what is happening in the community.

Again, all three of these types of activities are necessary.  In the coming weeks, we’ll take a more in-depth look  at each of them.

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Tuesday Thoughts (2/28/2012)

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2012 by pragmaticpreacher Tagged: , , ,

We’ve all probably been to more “church leadership” conferences than we can remember.  “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” says John Maxwell.  I’m guessing you have your own favorite quotes from the conferences you’ve attended, too.

Hopefully you’ve used the skills and information from all those conferences to raise up leaders in you congregation.  The church needs leaders and, as a leader, you need to help develop new ones.

Sometimes, though, we’re guilty as church leaders of missing a key point in this.  Yes, we raise up leaders to take on leadership in the church.  But what about raising up leaders in the church to bring leadership to our neighborhoods?

If we believe what John Maxwell taught us and the neighborhoods where our churches are located are in need of leadership, then are we not accountable as to whether these communities rise or fall?

And, as critical as it is, I don’t just mean in spiritual needs.  If you’ve raised up leaders in the church, do you have the courage to deploy them to the community to do things like lobbying the city for a new playground?  Organize a blood drive?  Advocate for affordable housing?

The possibilities are endless and limited only by the needs in your community.

You don’t need the name of the church on any of these projects.  Instead, simply utilize the gifts and skills God embedded in your church for the sake of the community.

In other words, along with raising leaders for the church, try engaging the community some leadership from the church.

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