The second recommendation that was unanimously adopted at our recent Voters’ meeting was: “Adopt an ‘outward-focus’ mission and ministry that is committed to reaching the lost with the Gospel by engaging in meaningful relationships with the surrounding community.”
This particular recommendation came about from the lengthy study and discussions we had this summer about “BE the Church.” Looking at Acts and going through the “iNeighborhood” process, we identified the need to become more active in terms of our outreach endeavors. Historically, we have:
- Depended on military and job re-locations as the source of new membership.
- Passively supported the work of our parachurch partners (i.e., THRIVE, PORT, PRM, Care-Net) with checks and prayers and nothing else.
This recommendation calls for Resurrection and its membership to actively pursue new relationships through neighbors and friends.
- Develop “neighborhood” missionaries
- B*L*E*S*S our neighbors (Bond – Learn – Engage – Serve – Share)
- Connect with the people of our community
We have already begun taking steps in this direction through:
- Hosting a “Community Cook-Out”
- Hosting our upcoming “Trunk-or-Treat” tomorrow
- Hosting a “Christmas Carol Fest” on the Sunday before Christmas
- Use of mass-mailers and media to connect with our community
Becoming “outward-focus” is as much about attitudes as it is about the actions we take as a congregation toward the people of our community. Through the storytelling exercise (Listening Post #2) we heard people describe their spiritual journeys. One of the things researchers have discovered is that people in declining churches tell a vastly different story about their relationships to the church than people in thriving congregations. The things on the left are the things that in time have to be dropped for a transformation toward thriving is complete.
DECLINING CHURCH MEMBERS THRIVING CHURCH MEMBERS
Committed to the church Committed to Christ
Managing committees Deploying missionaries
Holding offices Doing hands-on ministry
Making decisions Making disciples
Serving at the church Serving in the world
Preoccupied with raising money Preoccupied with rescuing people
Doing church work Finding personal fulfillment
Retiring from church work Pursuing constant personal growth
Surveying internal needs Sensitized to community needs
Eager to know everyone Eager for everyone to know God
Loyal to each other Drawn to the unchurched
Trained for membership Life long quest for personal growth
Building faith on information Building faith on experiencing Christ
Perpetuating a heritage Visioning a future
Moving forward as a congregation, Resurrection will need to prayerfully and carefully think through this transformation from being “ego” (me/church centered) to “iGo” (other/community centered). We will deal with these concepts in the weeks and months ahead of us.