Engaging Our Neighbors

Two weeks ago, in my blog post (which you can read hereclick on the blue underlined word “here” to be taken to the post), I wrote about what we have learned during the pandemic and how we, as a church, need to adapt our practices to meet the challenges of this new day. Last week (read it here), I went deeper into the accountability groups that our Wesleyan heritage handed down to us and how important they are for our future discipleship growth.

This week I want to dive into the notion of engaging our neighbors in fellowship and evangelism.

The old “tried and true” way of doing things in the church was to plan and provide excellent programs and ministries and people would be attracted to the activities, attend, and then join the church. This is the—to borrow from the movie “Field of Dreams”—“If you build it, they will come!” method. For a time in our church’s history, this method worked and a thriving church of many activities resulted. But we live in a much different world now, post pandemic. And even before the pandemic, it was becoming obvious that the old methods were not working and we needed to change our approach. It should be self-evident that waiting for people to come, or trying to program our way out of decline, is not working any more.

Instead of waiting for people to come to church, I submit that it is time for the church to go out to people!

How do we do this? There are several ways, and the way that is chosen doesn’t matter; what matters is that we choose a way and commit to doing it!

The simplest way, perhaps, is to just invite neighbors, friends, acquaintances to come to your home, enjoy a meal and/or a Bible study or fellowship group. Maybe sing a few hymns or songs and give a brief devotion from the Bible. Engage in conversations about faith and share how Jesus has transformed your life. Nothing too heavy, but something that touches people’s hearts. The key is to be winsome, a wonderful word that means “attractive or appealing in appearance or character.”

If that is not something you can do, how about going to a coffee shop or restaurant and gathering a few friends for a meal or coffee, and engaging in Bible study and/or discussion. There is even an idea of “Dinner Church” where several members of a church arrange for a secluded area of a restaurant (or when the restaurant is closed) and do a more formal time of worship and fellowship. Holding something like this away from the church buildings can help people who are not likely to show up at church feel more comfortable. Intentionality is important. You’re not getting together just for fellowship, but fellowship with the purpose of sharing the Gospel and engaging in the lives of others.

Meeting in Mile Square Park for singing and testimonies is another idea. Going across the street to the mobile home park and having a meal and/or sing-a-long to engage the residents is another. There are lots of ideas and no idea is foolish. What’s your idea of going out to meet people where they are and sharing the love of Jesus with them?

What we are doing at The Fount is wonderful, but we are not growing sufficiently to sustain the church for the future. We must do different things and try different ways to reach people with the Gospel. Let me know your ideas and let’s get going!