Perhaps the most common question I get in church revitalization goes something like this inquiry: “What do I do to get people in the community to come to our church when our members don’t live in or near the community?”
My response is usually not well received. Simply stated, you can’t expect the community to come to your church if your members don’t live in the community. The most common reason someone attends and eventually connects with a church is relationships. Those relationships are unlikely to develop when church members and community members live in two different places.
Further, community members will often feel like you don’t care about them if members live elsewhere. It’s really an untenable situation.
Is it an impossible situation? To call any situation impossible is to deny the power of God. But it is a very difficult situation, one that rarely ends well. A few radical decisions have to be made:
- Someone must become a missional presence in the community. You can’t be on the mission field in absentia. You must live there. If the church does not have one or more families living in the community, it does not qualify to be a gospel presence there. In fact, the church should have several families willing to live in the community.
- The church must begin to look like the community. If the community is 90 percent non-white and all the church members are white, the church obviously does not reflect the community. Until the demographics of the community and the church are more similar than not, the church in the example will look more like a white country club than a gospel-centered congregation.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer