Church Partnerships

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    November 6, 2012


I’ve always believed…well, at least since I had Tom Finger as a professor in seminary…that the church should be involved in helping make the community a better place. Involved may be too limiting a word. Perhaps “essential assisting” is closer to the truth.

The church should constantly seek that delicate balance between prophetic and peacemaking. Peacemaking includes that community involvement that searches for health and unity. The recent election visibly shows the polarization in our nation. People don’t agree, and sad as it is, it seems that there is not a desire to find agreement. Compromise is seen as a weak alternative.

What if each church sought to bring together communities? What if a church extended it’s serving hands to everyone around it? What if a community was networked by a church that intentionally saw the importance of “essential assisting.”

Last Saturday about forty people from three of our neighborhood churches spent the morning serving our neighbors- raking leaves and bagging them, cleaning out gutters, weeding gardens, repairing ripped screens. It was a good day!

The morning began with Baptists, Mennonites, and Presbyterians sharing a meal together before heading out “interdenominationally” in eight work teams. Neighbors were appreciative and delighted. It’s about the seventh “Community Hands” work day that we’ve worked together on. Some of our neighbors have become “regulars.” They include a 90 year old widow, a mother with health problems and her 30 year old mentally challenged son, and some other elderly folks who just can’t do yardwork anymore. They see us as three churches that care about them. There is a connection there.

Yesterday I met with the principal and school social worker at the grade school down the street from our church to talk about…partnership! This will be the fourth year that we have partnered with the school’s student council in providing Thanksgiving baskets for families in need who include children enrolled at the school. The students do a canned goods drive, and our congregation collects frozen turkeys and bags of potatoes. Together we assemble the baskets for the families who will receive them.

Essential assisting. The school has a wonderful faculty that does some amazing things for students in need. And now, they eagerly join with us in the ministry of serving.

The hang-up with many congregations is that they want to see community involvement translate into “butts in the seats.” They envision a dividend of more people coming through the doors on Sunday morning. When that doesn’t happen there is often the closing of the drawbridge and the church retreats to a “fortress mentality.”

That mentality is a short-sighted view of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it is also a cultural view, that I’ll go along with it as long as there is a tangible reward soon enough. Bringing peace into the midst of a troubled life isn’t seen as being enough. Meanwhile our communities struggle…and churches struggle!

Communities struggle because of the chaos in people’s lives, and churches struggle because they choose to be blind to the chaos.

Last Saturday’s day of service won’t suddenly make our neighborhood a new utopia, but it is a step towards healing and establishing that sense of community.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Jesus, love, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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