It takes a shift in thinking to be a leader and a church that moves from caring for their community to engaging with their community. It is not as if we now don’t care, we rather think that a model to see long term relationships built within our community is to engage rather than just meeting needs. Meeting needs will often default to a hand-out, engagement will result in a hand-up.
There are many people and organisations meeting needs in the community, however the ACC church and its leaders are perfectly positioned to provide something different as we engage with our communities. Community engagement is never about the size of church or how many community programs you have running, it is a way of thinking about the influence you already have.
It’s a way of thinking that shapes the way the whole church and its people operate.
Community Engagement has to work out of the heart of the Senior Pastors, otherwise it will always remain a department, a program or something done by a ‘fanatical few’.
Outreach is often event based, largely dependent on timing and will always be restricted by budget. Transformation is the business of consistently finding your church in spaces where others are not. City-wide transformation allows you to shape conversations, policies and even architecture, because your city trusts you.
Moving from Sunday to Monday asks the question ‘who is it that we exist for?’. Are we a church that only tries to get people to come on a Sunday or is Monday an opportunity to be the church? Moving from Sunday to Monday is a movement, not just for the church corporately to see their facilities and pastors as great assets to the community, but also for each person apart of the church to see themselves as incredibly valuable wherever they find themselves Monday to Saturday.
Community engagement gives you an opportunity to partner with many things going on in your community; we don’t need to think of an idea to be a part of it. What is it that our community loves to do and that we can join them in it?
The vast majority of Australians aren’t waking up Sunday morning wondering ‘what is a great Sunday service I can go to?’. These Australians are the very ones we want to engage, because although they may not be thinking church service, they do have eternity placed in their heart and we are confident they need Jesus just as much as we do.
However, to put a stark reality on what Australians think of church, Mark Mcrindle’s stats places church buildings as 13th on the list of something the community would like to see more of to enhance the community. To provide some context ‘leash free dog parks’ sit 3 places higher! People would rather have a place to run their dog around than a place to worship on Sunday. However, sitting at number 3 is a community centre, what if our churches looked more like a place that enhances our community 7 days a week. To think like a community engaging church is to have a facility that provides practical support but is also a place to engage, to relax, be social and all the things Australians like to do. Our churches should be a well in our communities, a place where people come for something they think they need, but leave with something so much more.