10 Ideas for Making Powerful Community Connections

Kenny Jahng —  2010/11/20 — Leave a comment

The following is a guest blog post from Pastor Randy Kinnick in Arkansas.  He shares some great ideas regarding community and connections.  Enjoy. . .


People long for connection…we are designed that way.  The power of belonging is a strong drive.  Although negative peer pressure can be the result, if we understand that this need to be in community is a God-given trait, we can approach life and evangelism from a perspective that embraces and celebrates it.  Erwin McManus has pointed out…

There may be no greater proof of God than the power of community.

There may be no greater gift than a place to belong.  While it may seem you’re selling out to admit you need people, the irony is that you’ll never really know yourself until you’re in a healthy community.  We only truly come to know ourselves in the context of others.  The more isolated and disconnected we are, the more shattered and distorted our self-identity.

We are not healthy when we are alone.

We find ourselves as we connect to others.

(Soul Cravings, 2008 Thomas Nelson)

In light of this, there are ideas we can utilize to effectively connect with our community at large while creating stronger connections within our faith community.  The end result is that more people are touched with the love and truth of the gospel. 

Here are 10 ideas that I believe will accomplish this in any church. . .

1.      BE A FRIENDLY FACE

This may seem uber-simplistic, but we need to make it more practical than just a philosophical mantra.  Let’s think outside the box to provide opportunities for our people to develop relationships and share their faith.  This could be done through the church’s sponsorship of sports teams, little leagues or scout troops.  We can agree to help coordinate volunteers for community groups when they have special projects.  Any opportunity to show a friendly face to the community is a win for your church.

2.       PROVIDE OPEN ARMS

Consider opening your facilities to be used by groups outside your church.  This will require some coordination and the establishment of a use policy, but this can be a win-win situation.  There is even a website (www.rentmychurch.com) that will help you connect with people who want to use your facilities.  We have provided meeting space for groups such as a home school associations, an arts program for handicapped kids, the local high school booster club, the community choir and Narcotics Anonymous.  These connections have opened doors for us to reach many families we otherwise would have never touched.

3.      TAKE IT OUTSIDE THE WALLS

This doesn’t require a lot of new programming; it just requires adaptation of what you already do.  Consider taking a weekly Bible study out to a community setting.  Do a worship service in the park.  Host a children’s activity in an area near an apartment complex and invite the neighborhood.  This past summer we decided to utilize the green space between our facility and the neighboring housing development.  We started out with hotdogs and hamburgers and then invited the kids to join our children’s program in the Event Center while the adults had worship and Bible study on the lawn.  This was “no strings attached” and, although the numbers were not huge, we were able to connect with a few families through our efforts and see decisions made for Christ.

4.      RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

Lots of churches have promoted days or weeks for their people to be intentional about performing random acts of kindness.  Take it a step further and print cards that can be passed along with a brief explanation of why you are doing this, including the church website and a passage like Luke 4:18-19.  When someone anonymously pays for the coffee of the person behind them in line at Starbucks, for instance, they can ask the barista to give them the card when the drive up to the window.  Be creative and think in terms of bringing glory to Christ in the process.

5.      PROMOTE SERVICE

It is one thing to teach our people that they should serve, it is another to provide the opportunities to do so.  We are always challenged to recruit people to volunteer in our ministry.  However, how much energy do we spend in providing opportunities to serve outside the walls of the church?  Planning and organizing a “Service Saturday” will get people involved in serving who may never volunteer within the church ministries.  Once they’ve had a taste of service, they may just be more likely to want to serve within as well.  We just finished up a very successful service day that was coordinated primarily through our small groups.  The reviews are coming back with positive results.  Some of the groups are even deciding to adopt their site as an on-going service opportunity.

6.      DE-CENTRALIZE CHURCH LIFE

This is nothing new in our day of small group ministries.  The advantage is that when we get the church worshiping and studying outside its walls, unique opportunities are opened to invite and engage people who may not readily darken the doors of a church building.  If your church doesn’t have regular community groups meeting, consider having periodic prayer gatherings or study series in homes where people can invite their neighbors to interact with your families.  This can open a door into the church that won’t be there otherwise.

7.      PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY LIFE

This may overlap a little with #1 above, but there is a little difference intended.  Look around you and see what the big events are for your community.  Are there family-oriented activities that most people of the community attend?  How are you involved as a church?  Is there an opportunity to have a booth, a float in the parade, or to man the concession stand at the local football game?  Look for ways to rub elbows with the community in a high-traffic venue.

8.      NO STRINGS ATTACHED TOUCHES

This is more of a clarification and philosophy than an idea.  When you do what you do to make connections, people may be skeptical about your motives.  Of course, our motive is always to have the opportunity to love people and share the gospel.  However, when we do what we do because we love people and want to meet their needs without expecting anything in return, we lower their defenses and quell their cynicism.  This may just open the door for them to want to hear what we have to say about how Christ can change their lives.  Some examples to consider are providing new backpacks filled with schools supplies to the elementary school across the street, providing free food at a cookout for a low-income housing development, passing out bottled-water on the street corner in the middle of August.  Simply include something with the church name on it so that people know from where it comes.  Expect nothing in return except the Holy Spirit to move.

9.      BE AWARE OF THE NEEDS

Life gets busy…especially church life.  Families and leadership in the church have the tendency to become myopic.  We forget to look beyond ourselves and see the real, felt needs of our community.  When we stop and notice, there may be a need that is not being met which God has equipped your church to address.  When we allow God to show us these needs, we begin to see them as opportunities for the gospel.  At that point, take a 3-step PSA approach:  Prayer, Strategy, Action.

10.  REALIZE THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE GREAT COMMANDMENT GO HAND-IN-HAND

It is significant that when Jesus began to teach in the synagogues after declaring his public ministry, He quoted from Isaiah 61:1, 2 (as recorded in Luke 4:18-19).  There, He clearly connected the felt needs with the spiritual need.  The gospel incorporates both, and we will fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment when we exclude neither.

How have you used “out of the box” ideas to provide connections with your community and the gospel?

randy kinnickRANDY KINNICK: Thinker, writer, observer of life…husband, father, and follower of Christ.  In no particular order, these describe who Randy is and the person he is becoming.  He serves as Equipping Pastor at First Free Will Baptist Church in Russellville, AR, where he pursues his passion of discipleship in the context of community.

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