When disasters strike, we must avoid the urge to throw out pat answers or offer flippant explanations. So how do we answer those struggling in the aftermath of disasters?
We grieve with those who suffer. Suffering causes us to pause, to look at the hard questions, and should move us to weep with those who are weeping. Grieving hearts need someone to come alongside them. They do not need pat answers and simple explanations. Followers of Christ should be the first to respond with grace, love, and generous help. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often among the first to respond in the aftermath of disasters, and seek to bring help, healing, and hope to those affected.
We should be reminded of our many blessings. Life is a gift. Even the air that we breath is a gift from God. We should never trivialize the suffering, but we should also not forget all the goodness that we have been blessed with in life. God is good every day and even in the trying days, He has blessed us greatly.
We must decide how we will respond to God. We can be angry with God or we can trust Him. We can question His goodness, or we can worship Him. Disasters remind us that tomorrow is uncertain, so we had better be prepared for eternity. The only way to be prepared for the uncertainty of life and for eternity is to know God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ.
We must rest our lives on a solid foundation. The Bible encourages us to build our lives on a foundation that cannot be shaken. Disasters remind us that this earth as we know it now will not go on forever. There is a time coming when time will cease, and this world will be gone in the twinkling of an eye. Tragedies teach us that the only sure hope is to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to have the assurance of the life that He alone can give. The uncertainties of disasters remind us to prepare for the certainties that are to come. The only sure foundation to build one’s life upon is to know God and to rest our lives in His truth.
2 Corinthians 6:2
” For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.”
If you would like to know more about how you can become a disaster relief volunteer or how you can know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship, contact us at [email protected] .
church was founded as a missionary sending organization. It was not intended to
be a religious organization with missions as only a department within the
organization. Its primary purpose was missionary and its members were to be
involved in the spreading of the gospel.
many local churches today are not engaged in missions. Oh, they may send an
offering or even pray occasionally for missionaries, but their focus of attention
and participation isn’t upon missions. Sadly, many local churches have gone
from being the important participant who makes things happen in missions (like
in the book of Acts) to being a gentle spectator.
can the church once again, become the seedbed for mission involvement and
First of all, we can’t assume someone in the church will automatically lead this effort. If it’s everyone’s responsibility, it quickly becomes no one’s. It’s takes an intentional effort by a specific person or group, and not just the pastor. Having a team or group of people who are tasked with this responsibility is critical to ensuring that missions is focused upon and carried out by the congregation. So, form a team, committee or group of people who will help the church re-establish its rightful place in missions. It’s not important what you call them, but there is something effective about a group of people that work together on how they can engage and help the whole church to focus on missions.
Secondly, specific steps must be taken to restore the local church’s sense of participation and importance in missions. Determining how that will be done is responsibility of the “missions committee” or “Acts 1:8 team”. Here are some role recommendations that will guide this group in leading the church to once again, becoming a missions focused, engaged participant in reaching their community and the world for Christ:
Raise awareness and educate The first and most basic task of the missions team should be raising awareness and educating the church family about missions. This includes arranging opportunities for members to learn more about the missionaries, the spiritual and physical needs of people living within a region, and how the missionaries are seeking to address those needs. It might be slides or videos in worship or an article in the newsletter, highlighting a missionary the church is partnering with. Consider a digest of missions efforts or missionaries supported by the church with data, pictures and testimonies, outlining ways members can be engaged.
awareness through Sunday School classes, community groups, and children’s
ministry. Teach and focus on missions year-round, inviting missionaries to
speak or have them Skyped in during a worship service. While some churches feel that an annual
missionary conference is enough, it seldom sustains the church for the whole
Lead out in prayer The missions team must lead the way by getting church members involved in missions in practical ways. First, encourage them to pray for missionaries every day.
them how to use the monthly prayer guides published by the NAMB or IMB. Praying
for one missionary or one locale every day is a great start. Few people can
pray for “the whole world,” or “all the missionaries,” in
any manageable way.
prayer for missionaries and missions projects during the worship service and in
small groups. How can we expect people
to give and go if we aren’t willing to set aside time to pray.
Develop strategy Every church receives many requests from people or organizations asking for money. They are many worthy causes, but no one church can help everyone.
a strategy for how you will allocate funds and support various missionaries or
ministries. A strategy will give
direction and purpose to the missions committee’s task and to the church’s
The missions team must decide one basic question: How does God want our church to be involved in missions? Consider developing a strategy that simultaneously involves the church in their local community, state, nation and world. This may sound overwhelming, but it is possible for even the smallest of churches to adopt this kind of Acts 1:8 strategy.
The KBC Missions Mobilization Team is equipped to help
your missions team in the development of a strategy. They can also help the
team to assess the church’s current level of missions engagement through MAP,
Missions Assessment Profile. For assistance, contact www.kybaptist.org/missions, [email protected] or 502-489-3530.
Encourage missions giving One way or another, if God’s missionary mandate is to be fulfilled, missionaries must be supported by local churches. The missions team’s role is crucial, whether the church determines an annual missions dollar amount that is divided between missionaries and projects, raises a challenge goal amount for each of the missions offerings, or takes on the personal support of a number of missionaries.
financial support should be determined by the church’s missionary strategies.
That strategy guides budget decisions by the church. Without some direction and
purpose to the missions program, money is usually spent for the most persuasive
speakers and causes. This leaves little opportunity for critical needs that may
receive little attention. The committee must guard against this kind of
The missions team must also shield the budget from “pet” causes, which often come from influencers within the church. Tough, sometimes unpopular decisions must be made. This is easier to do when the church has agreed on both its missions strategy and its budget in advance.
Provide missionary care
While I’m thankful for missions sending agencies like our IMB and NAMB, I’m
afraid the church has relinquished its responsibilities to nurture missionaries
who are sent and now serving. In full cooperation with mission boards, churches
must take more responsibility for missionaries.
After a missionary begins serving, the missions team should work to ensure they are cared for. Specific suggestions include encouragement visits, communication with them (email, letters, Facetime, etc.) providing supplies and resources, sending care packages and mobilizing short-term teams to assist in the ministry.
forget to make caring for the children of missionaries part of your focus as
well. The church should be aware of
cultural adjustments, loneliness, and moral tests that MKs face.
for missionaries while on stateside assignment (or home on furlough) gives the
committee many chances to show care in meeting such needs as housing, cars,
clothing, vacation retreats, administrative assistance, etc.
Call out the “called”
Many young people receive their “call” to missions in college
organizations or at missions conferences. That’s great, but I am saddened that
so few of our church’s passionately challenge those God has called to go and then
actively send them.
In the book of Acts, the “call” of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13) came to them from the Holy Spirit through the church at Antioch. The missions team should look for people with cross cultural interest and ministry skills, and then challenge them to prayerfully consider serving in missions.
Be missions specialists Don’t let the word specialist scare you and keep you from assuming this role. The missions team can become missions specialist by familiarizing themselves and learning from many different resources. Resources may be missions books, magazines, newsletters, special seminars, conferences or our mission sending agencies (IMB, NAMB).
Missions team members should specialize to more effectively accomplish their role. Subcommittees (or individual committee members) can be organized by the Acts 1:8 strategy, each having a responsibility for a specific area (local, state, nation and world). Another way to organize for specialization is to assign each subcommittee/individual one of the recommended roles discussed in this article (education, prayer, strategy development, giving, and missionary care).
In closing, a church that chooses to form a missions team that actively functions as outlined above will find itself right in the middle of what God is doing! It will be a seedbed for missions engagement and they will be impacting the world with the gospel as God intended. My prayer is that more of our churches will have a missions or Acts 1:8 team helping them to organize around missions, rather than religion.
Natural disasters continue to strike with little warning across the globe. In the aftermath of these tragic events, people often ask, “Where is God?”
Intellectual answers even when based on fact do not take away the pain or the loss of those affected by disasters. People need hope and grace amid the darkness, and I am absolutely convinced that only God can provide this healing of the heart. Yet this still does not answer the question, “Where is God?”
The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but the existence of evil and suffering in our world makes some wonder if God is good. The atheist says God must either be weak, sadistic, or non-existent as he looks at the suffering that exists on our planet. The unbeliever defies anyone to give an answer for such suffering after a disaster. Yet, the very question coming from an atheist is illegitimate and beyond reason. If one really believes that God does not exist, then one has no ability to question the events of life. If there is no God, then the very ideas of good and evil do not exist. Apart from God life has no meaning nor moral compass.
Men point to tragedy and question God’s goodness, but God points to the Cross of Calvary and declares here is the evidence of my love and goodness. Jesus Christ is the proof of both God’s goodness and the depths of His love for His created ones.
So, the real question is not where is God, but how can we know God’s hope in the brokenness? I offer these foundations:
Choose to follow Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. The only real answer for the brokenness of this world is know Jesus in a personal relationship. The assurance of our faith hinges on the one whom we have placed our faith. The only sure hope in life is to know Christ and the life that He has given.
Trust the promises of His Word. God does not reveal to us all the mysteries of life, but He does promise that He will love and care for all that have placed their faith in Him. The Bible reminds us again and again that God loves us and will not abandon us. Hear God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10, ” Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” In the present, we live in the trust of His promises not in explanations.
Remember, God has a plan. God and his purposes are more than any of us can understand. If God could be completely understood, then He would be like us. Thankfully, God is greater than us and beyond our complete understanding. We live in a fallen world, but we are promised that God has a plan. A day is coming when God will answer every injustice, all suffering will end for those who are His, and His glory will be revealed to every person. Blessed are those that trust God’s character when they are struggling to see His hand.
Where is God? God is ever-present, and offers His strength, grace, and hope to all who will open their hearts to Him. It is not a coincidence that those with a spiritual foundations cope with the stress and trauma of disasters in ways that strengthen recovery.
” God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.”
The year 2018 witnessed Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, the California Wildfires, the Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami, the Guatemala Mount Fuego Eruption, and Super Typhoon Manghut along with countless other smaller disaster events. Each of these events caused significant loss that left people and communities reeling in the aftermath of these natural disasters.
What can we do as the church to help those suffering in times of disaster?
Here are the ten best ways to help survivors of disasters:
Do not just show up to volunteer. Spontaneous, untrained volunteers often make response more difficult for responders. Disaster areas are often short on housing and food. Those who just show up often rob these resources from those affected by the disaster, and often create issues that slow down rescue and recovery efforts.
Get trained as a disaster relief volunteer. Training enables you to respond at the right time and in the right way so that you provide real and effective help to survivors of disaster. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provides effective and positive ways to connect as a volunteer to help in times of disaster. Learn more and register for a training at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .
Avoid the temptation to load up a tractor trailer with donated supplies unless you are connected with someone on the ground and meeting a specific request. Disasters often become a receptacle for “guilt” giving or “make-myself-feel-good” giving. It does not help communities devasted by disasters to barrage their communities with unwanted items or to ship them our junk. Collecting stuff often causes further damage to communities by creating debris piles and the cost of disposing unwanted, unneeded truckloads of stuff.
In most cases, monetary donations to reputable organizations are the best way to help those affected by disasters. Monetary donations enable organizations to meet real needs in the best and most efficient way. Ministering to disaster victims should be about meeting the needs of those affected, not making myself feel good.
Avoid charity fraud. Give to reputable organizations with a proven track record. Donations through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Baptist Global Response, and Send Relief with the North American Mission Board are some of the best ways to offer help and hope to disaster survivors.
Pray for those affected. Prayer is always a right thing to do for hurting people.
If the disaster is in the church’s community, the church can offer compassion by just reaching out to support our neighbors. Listening to them and being with them in their pain and confusion brings God’s healing comfort.
Meet practical needs. Offer the church as a shelter. Prepare meals or allow a Southern Baptist mobile kitchen to be set up at your church to provide meals. Collect and reach out to families affected with Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart gift cards.
Plan and organize a community memorial service or worship event that allows families a safe place to find healing and comfort in their loss.
“Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”
The Pastor is called to be a preacher/teacher within the body of faith. This place of leadership gives him a unique authority and influence in the local church. When the shepherd of the flock leads, the flock will follow. This is crucial for the general health of the church but also for the missional health of the body of Christ.
The pastor is called to be God’s strategist for the local mission field but is also critical for God’s command to take the Gospel to the nations. When the pastor has a passion for missions the church will be ignited to go into all the world for the sake of the Gospel.
The pastor is vital in:
Casting a missional vision. If it is not said from the pulpit most in the pews do not think it is important.
Helping the body of Christ understand lostness. When the pastor is consumed by the urgency of our work for Christ, it will overflow to the people in the pews.
Making missions a regular and important part of worship. Missions should flow from the worship of God. We were created to give God glory. When we meet God in worship, it stirs our hearts to make His name known among all peoples. The pastor plays a key role by seeking ways to make missions a part of worship (preaching on missions, showing mission clips, praying for missions, highlighting mission offerings, using missions’ illustrations in his message, inviting missionaries to speak).
Preaching the Word faithfully and challenging the people to live life on mission for Christ.
Leading by example. The church will never be more committed than their leader.
Fostering the development of missionaries within the congregation by seeking to grow and encourage those in the family of faith to serve and surrender to a missions’ calling. Pastors are called to equip up the saints, so that these disciples may be sent out on mission for Christ. The Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention can assist individuals in connecting with our Southern Baptist missionary sending organizations to begin exploring the missionary appointment process.
Developing a comprehensive mission strategy to move the church to reach its Jerusalem, to have impact in the church’s Judea and Samaria, and to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the globe.
Being an encourager of missions and missionaries. Invite missionaries to your church and help the church to build relationships with missionaries.
Promoting missions giving. This is the lifeblood of missions, and when we give cooperatively, we can do more for the Kingdom than any of us can alone. The pastor plays a vital role in helping the church to understand why we give to missions and choose to work cooperatively as Southern Baptists.
Encouraging the church to pray for missions, unreached peoples, and missionaries.
Energizing the flock to “Go.”
The strength or weakness of each local church’s missionary program, its missionary support, and its missionary outreach will depend, more than any other one element, on the mission-mindedness of its pastor.
William Shakespeare, author of “Romeo and Juliet” didn’t think that names should matter very much. He had Juliet say: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” I would disagree with old Shakespeare on how much a name matters. What we call something describes its function and helps give meaning to its purpose.
The role of the local Baptist
association has changed throughout history and must continue to do so in order
to be relevant and of value to its member churches. Likewise, the role of the associational
leader is ever changing as well. It
was in recognition of the changing association that served as a catalyst in
2017 for SBC Associational Leaders to establish a study committee to meet,
pray, research and engage in meaningful dialog around the language describing
the title and the role of those serving as leaders within local associations.
The study committee presented their
report in Dallas, Texas during the 2018 annual meeting of SBC Associational
Leaders. While there are many perspectives
on this topic, all can agree that many changes over the past few decades have
impacted the function and focus of the local Baptist association. The
commission signaled, and I agree, it was time for a fresh look at associational
The study report addressed
several key items, but the one creating the most discussion, was the recommended
use of “Associational Mission Strategist” when referring to associational
leaders in the future. The decision to use this terminology is more than just a
name change. It describes very well what the role of the associational leader
is to be. Ray Gentry, Executive
Director, Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, shared that “this was the first time in more than 40 years that the
title was updated. But having just three or four names spread over three
centuries is not all that bad.”
Most every title used
to describe the associational leader has advantages and disadvantages. A
frequent complaint about “Associational Missionary” is that when the word
“missionary” is employed in common usage it refers to someone commissioned to
work on behalf of a group – clearly not to the role of someone guiding a
coalition of churches doing the work themselves. “Director of Missions” likewise connotes an image of someone with
authority over churches, which is simply untrue. “Executive Director” sounds
corporate or secular to others.
The term “Associational Mission Strategist” however,
or “AMS” as an abbreviated version, speaks to the singular focus
associational leaders have of serving churches to engage with one Great
Commission, while skillfully selecting intentional ways to engage and energize
local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
If you’re familiar with Southern Baptists polity, you know
that it is up to each autonomous association to determine what term they will
use to describe their association’s leader. But for clarity and
consistency, the Kentucky Baptist Convention will begin referring to
associational leaders as AMS or Associational Mission Strategists. I’m
excited about the term and pray that it will serve as a reminder to each of us
of the responsibility entrusted to the person in the role to be strategically
focused and intentionally missional in everything that he leads the association
I hope now, that you will agree with me that Shakespeare
was wrong in thinking that a name doesn’t really matter. The names we give
positions and people do matter and what we call something has importance.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief finished an active year of disaster response in 2018. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene in times of disaster and the last to leave.
This past year saw Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers respond to flooding in Kentucky, wildfires in Colorado, tornadoes in Connecticut, and record flooding in Pennsylvania. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief played a significant role in disaster response in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. In addition, teams brought clean water to the Central African Republic and Mozambique.
This active year had disaster relief teams serving 40 weeks in response and saw the following ministry:
Volunteer Days: 5468 Days
Ministry contacts: 5468
Chaplain contacts: 3271
Gospel Presentations: 216
Decisions for Christ: 136
Meals Served: 156,388
Damage Assessments: 678
Flood Clean-up Jobs Completed: 407
Chainsaw Jobs Completed: 411
Heavy Equipment Hours of Operation: 692
Temporary Roofing Jobs Completed (Tarping): 113
Showers Provided: 6110
Laundry Loads Provided: 894
Bibles Distributed: 1346
Bottles of Water Distributed: 66,874
Wells Established or Repaired in Mozambique and Central African Republic: 9
“Thank You” Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers for your compassionate and faithful ministry to those devastated by disasters in 2018!
“Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Our world continues to experience devastation and destruction annually. Man-made events as well as natural disasters continue to challenge our minds with “why.” Why has this happened? Why me? Why my community? As Believers, we cannot answer the “why,” but we can respond with love and compassion as we help those affected know that they are not forgotten by God.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the three largest disaster response entities in the United States. Trained volunteers stand ready to respond when disaster hit across our globe. Disaster Relief ministry provides an opportunity for believers to be the hands and feet of Christ to hurting people.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief began ministry in 1984 and is part of the larger Southern Baptist Send Relief network of 42 state conventions, the North American Mission Board, and Baptist Global Response. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is supported by gifts of Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions. This ministry offers opportunities for believers to be on mission for Christ during times of crisis.
The Apostle John instructed us:
“Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
In times of crisis, people need more than empty words. They need someone to come alongside them with genuine help and real hope. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief brings practical help, the healing grace of Christ, and the hope of the Gospel to those devastated by disaster. More than 4500 Kentucky Baptists are trained as disaster relief volunteers. Volunteers can staff mobile kitchens designed to provide thousands of hot meals, move in with a chainsaw after a tornado, assist homeowners in cleaning up a flooded home, offer spiritual care as a chaplain, and provide many other disaster services.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are trained in:
Bulk Supply Distribution
Flood and Wildfire Clean up
Shower and Laundry Ministry
Water Purification and Well Repair
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has a host of resources that can be mobilized during times of disaster. Resources that can be deployed are:
4 Mobile Kitchens with the capacity to prepare 68,000 meals a day for disaster survivors
27 Chainsaw/Flood/Fire Recovery Trailers
2 Mobile Communication and Command Units
7 Mobile Shower trailers
1 Mobile Laundry Trailer
2 Mobile Childcare Trailers
3 Mobile Water Purification Units
1 Mobile Roof Tarping Trailer
1 Kuboda Skid-Steer
1 Mobile Lift
You can get trained in 2019 on the following dates:
January 12 at Mount Washington First Baptist Church
February 2 at Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland
March 2 at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Hopkinsville
Churches, pastors, and ministries seek to be heard in the massive expanse of one of the most competitive cultural influences in history… the influence and power of global media. We daily compete to share the most important message of life in a culture that is bombarded with 24-hour, non-stop media clutter.
Marketers today constantly talk about the importance of branding and being relevant in the competitive arena of global media. The fast food company McDonald’s has done this well through the years. McDonald’s began by serving hamburgers and fries and not much else. You can still get a hamburger at McDonald’s today, but you can also get salads, wraps, and a cappuccino. It is a different world even for McDonald’s and they have continued to adapt their product to stay relevant and to attract customers.
As the church, we must continue to prayerfully communicate the message of Christ in a changing culture and to form mission strategies that are effective and relevant in this new day. The Apostle Paul understood the need for cultural awareness and adaptability. That is what he is teaching us in the 1 Corinthians 9 when he instructs us,
“I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
The Apostle Paul understood the importance of sharing the Gospel in a way that communicates clearly in a sea of competing voices and that is culturally relevant to those whom you seek to reach. As a church, it is important to develop missional strategies that are culturally relevant and that communicate clearly.
McDonald’s has evolved from their beginnings in 1955 and continues to be relevant in a changing culture. As a company, they have been able to adapt and make changes that help them compete in this time of huge cultural shifts. They have remained relevant and continue to attract customers.
And yet, one thing has not changed, McDonald’s has never changed their iconic branding of the “golden arches“. They may have changed their menu, but the company leaders have recognized that the “golden arches” sets them apart and makes them recognizable in a flooded market of competitors.
I would encourage you to learn a second lesson from McDonald’s and the Apostle Paul. We must continue to adapt to stay relevant but certain iconic branding that sets us apart in a sea of clamoring competitors should remain. Though we must be willing to adapt in practice to effectively reach our world for Christ, we must hang on to that which “brands” us as the church of our Lord. As Paul shares clearly, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). This message must never change and must always remain as that which clearly communicates who we are in a sea of clamoring noise and media clutter. Christ crucified and resurrected is our unchanging message.
Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations.” To do this effectively requires us to have some understanding of the community and the culture that God has called us to minister within. Race, age, religious belief, economic status, language, educational background, unique community marks of identification, major social issues all have impact on our mission field and can be bridges or barriers to the Gospel.
Every church needs a cultural awareness of their mission field.
The Apostle Paul taught us about the need for cultural awareness in ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”
We are called as believers to be Ambassadors for Christ.
A good ambassador:
Has knowledge of who he is and who he is representing.
Knows extensive knowledge of the place that he has been assigned…culturally, socially, politically, geographically, etc.
Shows respect for the people that he will serve among.
Seeks to identify and connect with the people that he will work with.
Do you know your community?
Strategic Cultural Demographics – Strategic Mapping for Ministry/Outreach
Income Levels – average income
Employment/Unemployment – biggest employers
Percentage of Poverty and homelessness
Population Distribution by Age – fastest growing age segment
Major Social Issues that Impact community – drug usage, teenage pregnancy, etc.
Unique Community Markers of Identification – university, resort area, military base, etc.
Projected Community Growth Rate over Next Five Years – community stagnant, declining, or growing
Religious Beliefs in Community
What Percentage of Community Looks Like Your Church?
There are several ways to gather this information to help you to understand the culture of your community. Information can be gathered from census and other community data resources on the internet. Often real estate groups, local Chambers of Commerce, and schools will have good community information.
Church Leaders should also do personal observation in the community to verify or to discover additional community information. Drive through the community. Walk through neighborhoods. Look for significant community markers or cultural markers (ethnic restaurants, non-Christian places of worship, community assistance or resource centers, colleges, military base, recreational areas). Identify local places where people congregate. Observe and engage people in local gathering places.
The goal is to learn about people in your community and identify points where the church can build bridges to Christ.
The keys to developing a missional cross-cultural strategy in your church are:
Listen and observe
Look to build bridges to Christ
Share the Gospel in the heart language of your community/target group
Make decisions when possible with those of your target group
Be inclusive when you reach people – allow them a place in the family of faith
Be willing to make changes that break down barriers to the Gospel
Do not sweat a few mistakes but seek to learn from them.