Sometimes faith leaders fall into believing that there’s nothing compelling left to build, especially in our neighborhoods. We essentially say, “Our church needs to get used to the idea of being invisible and irrelevant. I mean, for many of us, we can barely get the sermon and service online and everything’s so challenging with all the new distancing regulations. So, from this point forward, outreach and serving our community is going to be brutal. It’s beyond us.”
I understand. I too have felt the anxiety of the disruption. Pastors and professionals (and nonprofit leaders like myself) have for months been adapting, adapting, adapting. It’s true that much of what we are doing day to day has changed, but a lot of what we are adapting are things we were already doing – inside our church walls.
We too often think inside the box (our literal walls). We let the past constrain us. We don’t get in our neighbors’ shoes and ask, “What would make this community really great, even in, or because of a pandemic? What would take our ‘hood to a whole new level? What would we create if the limits of current relationships weren’t an issue?”
What might it look like for my church to demonstrate the good news we are preaching weekly? You have to get outside the box and learn to dream again.
Lots of people in Scripture endured hardships and had to learn to dream again…It’s not the end of the world, but perhaps it is the beginning of a new journey. You’re not alone on the journey.
Consider Israel after the exodus, the Apostles after Christ died, and the Church when they dispersed from Jerusalem. All of them experienced massive disruption and learned to dream again. God did the guiding and He had something better in store for them. It wasn’t exactly what they imagined, but it was what God did.
My team is working with a medium sized church near a university. The church leaders never thought about helping students find jobs before, because it was never a problem prior the pandemic. But COVID changed that. Rather than dismissing the problem, the church responded by learning to dream again. They asked, “What if we can mobilize the business community sitting in our pews to help these students find a job?” And they did. The launched Job One to put people back to work. It’s becoming a powerful ministry that they wouldn’t have imagined 6 months ago. As a result they are reaching new students, community residents, and mobilizing their church’s gifts in new and meaningful ways.
We’ve seen and assisted churches organize food drives, develop health efforts, and educational support all during a time when there is great uncertainty and disruption.
I’m not saying that the answer is to simply get busy. Who needs more of that right now? All I’m saying is that the invitation to reach your community isn’t beyond you. It doesn’t have to be brutal. There are opportunities within reach for you and your church when you open yourself up to the needs of those around you. Will you learn to dream again?