Wow! What a fiercely passionate holiday extravaganza! Maybe by now we have caught our breath. For a moment there, we were hands on knees vigorously mouth-breathing. In ministry, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s make for an exhilarating ride. Every holiday season, we can expect changes in weather, parking lot and traffic congestion, and more families visiting our churches. The holidays have a way of bringing so many people together. We know this. But we also know that the rest of the year doesn’t look that way.
Numerous people return to their homes and forget our ministries exist until Easter, and the holiday season. So, maybe some of our staff meetings raise the question, “They came and they went, but will they return?” Well, that depends on what we do between now and then. Now is the time to build upon the bridge we laid a sturdy foundation for during the holidays. As we set goals for reaching our communities this year, let’s think about people in general.
Most people frequently visit places where they feel known, significant, and have a sense of belonging. So, what can we do to get to know people in our communities? What can we do to affirm their innate significance? What can we do to make them feel at home?
Keep it Simple
Keeping goals simple greatly increases our chances of achieving them. We are in ministry for the long haul. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. So, recognizing that we don’t have to reach the entire town this year is a good idea. Maybe our goal for this year could be one community or neighborhood. Maybe our goal for this year could be to begin and refine one event that impacts our immediate area.
Speed dating ensures we know no one. But connecting with one person for an hour would provide greater understanding. That’s a random analogy, but we get the idea. Less is more here. Whatever we choose to do this year to reach our communities, let’s keep it simple.
As best we can, it makes sense for us to know before we go. Showing up to a catered event with our own crockpot of goodness means we weren’t prepared. Or maybe we were prepared with food we would prefer to eat. Maybe showing up to a formal event in a costume is a better example. The point is, it’s a good idea to know a little bit about the area before showing up to invest there. Once we know a few things, we can show up in a more thoughtful, intentional way.
As we get out there and start connecting with people, we will meet some fairly incredible individuals. We will learn so much that we didn’t know before. Capture it! Everything we learn, we need to capture to ensure the next time we connect with them is even more specific to them. Which leads to our next thought. . . .
Being regularly present within our communities speaks volumes. If we only show up when we want people to come experience something at our ministries, we are communicating our selfishness. That is not our intention, so how can we prove otherwise? Consistency.
Whether we led an outreach or had a simple meet and greet, we have to do it again and again. Some people will need that before they ever step foot into our churches. And once they do, they can experience more of what we have already shown in their communities.
We don’t want to exhaust ourselves. Being realistic with our goals goes along with keeping it simple. As we connect with people, community needs will arise. As they do, let’s meet them realistically.
How can we be there for this grieving family? How can we help fix that plumbing issue? How can we celebrate their milestones? How can we share our resources?
Let’s not overpromise. Better yet, don’t promise. Let’s be present and do the best we can. We cannot do it all, but doing what we can is what will make a difference in reaching our communities.
Here’s to building bridges!