Thom Rainer is president of the Christian resource giant, Lifeway. Readers of his blog get the benefit of decades of studying and analyzing trends in Christian churches. He knows where to focus his reporting so that what you get is almost always relevant and, I believe, quite reliable.
One of his recent posts titled “Fifteen Trends for Churches in 2015, Part One” piqued my interest. Number 10 on the list got me to thinking and wanting to write some of those thoughts.
He says one trend will be, “Congregations growing in favor in their respective communities. Churches are transitioning from being an island in the midst of their communities to being a real and positive presence. As church members seek to serve their communities in a plethora of ways, the communities will see these churches more as valued partners.”
Wow! I sure hope he is right about that one. Please don’t fall asleep or even worse hit “Unsubscribe” while I write about “how things were in the good old days.” Can you bear with me just this once? Sure hope so, ’cause here goes…
My days go back to when the local public school and the local church were both held in high regard. And–I can say this because I was there–the schools and the churches worked in tandem in a lot of important ways. For example:
- Students recited the Pledge of Allegiance together at school and at church.
- We were encouraged at school to memorize Bible verses.
- The cafeteria served fish every Friday in respect to Catholic students.
- High school football teams and other groups were often invited and honored at a Sunday morning worship service.
- We were taught and expected to show respect for school teachers.
So, here’s a two-part question that comes to mind. What are churches already doing to become a real and positive presence in communities, and what more can be done to get there?
Kudos to churches that…
- Play a significant role in disaster relief for local residents suffering from storm damages.
- Help feed hungry school kids whose families cannot afford sufficient nutrition.
- Host programs like “WinShape” for kids in the summertime.
- Conduct quality Vacation Bible School for community kids.
- Provide space for people suffering from all kinds of addictions.
- Support teenagers within the community in a pregnancy crisis.
- Speak up for the unborn.
- Offer courses to the community on personal financial management.
- Proactively encourage stronger marriages and families.
Maybe churches could…
- Hire trained staff dedicated to offering Christian family counseling to the community.
- Provide space for kids to do homework and study after school until their working parents pick them up.
- Offer guidance to single parents in the community on how to cope with challenges of single parenthood.
- Find ways to erase racial barriers and promote multiracial church membership.
Maybe each believer (church member) could influence his neighborhood…
This statement about acting as an influencer in our neighborhoods is written with tongue in cheek. Of course we can influence our neighbors’ attention toward Christ. But, it requires intentionality, persistence and, most of all, integrity. Until we are doing that consistently, we cannot point a finger at “the church” for any lack of favor within our communities.
What do you think? Share your comments at the bottom of the page.