It is back-to-school season – a time of launches, starts, restarts, and acquiring new routines for many.  Cooler weather will arrive soon and before we know it there will be Friday night football games and bonfires. It is also a natural season to kick off new programs and ministries in the life of the church. 


As our neighbors are settling into their new routines, don’t miss out on this new season filled with new opportunities and possibilities.  In a world filled with people experiencing loneliness and desiring a sense of community,  the church has an opportunity to step out into their community in this season of launches and restarts.  The church is in a perfect position to offer hope, relationships, encouragement, and community.  


Notice there is the distinction to challenge the church to step out – not invite, attract, or expect the neighbors to come in.  This may be a shift for some churches and even a bit uncomfortable for other churches.  Jesus modeled this type of “stepping out” ministry offering most of His ministry outside the Temple (i.e. woman at the well, tax collectors, Good Samaritan, eating with commoners).


As we step out into our communities, we must step out in ways that are meaningful, impactful, authentic, and demonstrate we truly care about the well-being of our neighbors.  The purpose of reaching out is not to gain new members or grow the offering plate collection.  The purpose is to build new, meaningful relationships with the neighbors.  In order to do this, we must start with their needs, desires, preferences, and interests in mind instead of our own.  Too often the church starts with insider focus and ideas.  We must evert our thinking and our doing to start and end in different places.


What is missing in your neighborhood that your church can (or is being called to) provide?  What problem needs to be solved in your community that your church can bring people together to solve?  What kind of activity would your neighbors love to participate in but there is currently no space to host the activity?  The church doesn’t always have to be the initiator of brand new ideas or events.  What’s already going on in your neighborhood that you can help promote, grow, and support?  You will likely need to get out into your community to find out what’s going on and how to best connect with your neighbors.  First and foremost, don’t sit in a church meeting room and make decisions about reaching the community without asking them first!


Fall is the perfect time to connect with your neighbors as people recalibrate their routines.  Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to build authentic relationships with your community!  If your church is looking for resources to help equip you for this season, consider these options: