Over the years churches have engaged with and tried to transform their local communities in various ways. Many have run programs that serve different segments of the community, like job programs, food programs, day care programs, and so on. Churches have also tried to build relationships with people in the community by running events like Christmas carols, Easter concerts and Mother’s Day services. We’ve done all that at Lighthouse too.
Although programs, events, and services are a great way to engage with our communities, and we should continue to do that, there’s actually a better way. If you and your church can grasp this concept and run with it, it will revolutionize your church and transform your community.
Here’s what I think: To really transform our communities, the people in our churches need to change the way they think about or view their jobs and other activities they do during the week. I believe it’s that simple! In other words, if we can just get every person in church to believe they can introduce Christ into their workplace or their home or their university or their sports team from Monday to Saturday, that they are called by Christ to be missionaries where they are during the working week, we can transform our towns, our cities, and our nation!
I’m not necessarily talking about a change of behaviour. Christians can come to my church and feel like I’m going to give them another five tips on behavioural change that they need to work on during the week. Then halfway through the year they may have picked up from me 60 different ways to change their life. That’s insane! Because over the course of time I find that they haven’t actually done any of them. So Sundays can become exhausting. Sundays can just give them one or two more behavioural changes to work on during the week – on top of all the others I’ve suggested.
So I’m not talking about behaviour change. I’m talking about a fundamental change of thinking. Our community engagement programs are secondary to that. Our food programs are secondary. Our chaplaincy services and clean-up programs are secondary. I think community engagement and transformation is about attitude change first.