This past weekend, we at New Calvary Baptist Church took a step forward in connecting with our community. It was a productive effort. And we sure enjoyed doing it!
On Saturday morning, a group of us met at the church. Our group consisted of children, teenagers, and adults of varying ages. We divided into teams and walked around the neighborhood surrounding New Calvary. Each team knocked on doors, introduced themselves, handed out our flyers, and invited people to church.
It was an awesome experience!
I met Stefan. He was a 20-something African American guy who was playing basketball in his back yard. Stefan appeared to be a fantastic athlete. It turned out he goes to church with his mother in Columbia every Sunday. He told me about his life and his goals. I told him a little bit about the church and me, and told him if he ever needed a local church for anything, we are here for him. It was a great talk!
Then I met Mother Franklin. She invited one of my daughters and me into her home. It turned out she is a strong Christian lady who worked in the local hospital for years and she volunteers as a chaplain for a local prison. It was thrilling to hear her talk about going behind those bars and sharing the love of Jesus with young men who are struggling. Yep, that was a great talk too!
I could go on and on. Other folks I met were just as friendly and receptive to us as Stefan and Mother Franlin were. And I enjoyed every moment of it.
Why do I tell you this?
Well, I guess because God reminded me of something recently: Churches have a responsibility to reach out to those close to where God planted them. Sometimes, if we're not careful, we can overlook and neglect our neighbors that reside in the shadows of our steeples. May we be certain to never let that happen!
I want the folks in our church's neighborhood to know that Jesus loves them, and we love them too! And I want them to know that our doors are open to them, no matter who they are, where they've been, or what they've done. It seems to me that this is a big part of what the church is to be about.
I realize there are many different ways to reach out. Some churches host block parties. Some do mailers. And all that is fine. I suppose that the method of connecting with the community is not nearly as important as the fact that a genuine effort is being made.
May all of us churches reach out to our neighbors. The people who live within a stone's throw of our houses of worship also need Jesus! So let's do our part to build bridges with them. Eternity hangs in the balance, and this is what our Lord has called us to do.