Outreach Initiative Blog Community Rev. Doug Kallesen

How does a church today connect with their community?

Ed Stetzer in his book, “Breaking the Missional Code,” writes “what is God calling your church to be and do in this community?” Today, more than ever we must learn how to decipher what the culture, values and needs are of our community.

• What style of worship/music will best help your community worship in spirit and in truth?

• What evangelism approach should be used to communicate the gospel here?

• How should the church be run or governed, structured that reflects the ways people in this community operate and think?

• How can our church be missional to our community and how can we both reach and disciple the people that live in this area?

A more personal approach is to get to know your neighbors, especially those who are leaders in your community. I suggest that following prayer, you develop a list of things you want to know about your community and how your church could play a role in blessing the people that live there.

Then figure out who are the leaders and people of influence in your community. On my list were always other preachers, political leaders, such as the mayor and council members, principals and teachers, policemen, etc. This list gave me further leads, but my goal was to become better informed on getting the pulse and spirit of my community. It is also recommended that you develop a simple, 3-5 question survey to keep it all uniform. Surveying can also be done in select areas around your church, this information can be invaluable as you try to figure out how to crack your community’s mission code. Keep a record of the responses you receive.

Here is an example to illustrate how to identify needs of the community and the gifts, abilities and passions of your congregation and church leaders.

  • The first circle illustrates how a community survey circle could list needs found in the community.
  • The next circle would identify the Gifts, Abilities and Passions of the leadership and
  • The last circle would identify the Gifts, Abilities and Passions of the congregation to meet needs.
  • Choose the sweet spot - the shaded middle area - where community needs intersect the gifts, abilities and passions of the church and her leadership.

This is the best area to focus your ministry and connection to your community. Choose only one or two items and do them well, very well! This is your niche or perhaps one you can share in. Some churches have done well connecting with a local public school but this is not the case in every community or congregation.

Do your homework - what is the most heartfelt need of the community on our list and which one is the one we can best meet? We must each decipher the needs and get to know our community.

We must become the local experts on our community. I believe this is at the heart of what Jesus intends for us to do in, “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” Matt. 22:37 ff.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, of course we want to get our spouse something they want and will appreciate….a gift that is personally fitting for them. In the same way the church needs to contextualize their community and love her enough to personally provide the gift of ministry that is personal, powerful and precious to the community.

May the manifold wisdom of God be known in your community through your church! Ephesians 3:10

Rev. Doug Kallesen

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