Friday, July 13, 2012

Some Questions to Consider - Are We Really Reaching Out to Our Communnity?

So much of what we do in children's ministry is geared to "outreach" . . . we want "unchurched" kids to come to our events, but so often rely on the children in our ministries to bring their friends and on "word of mouth" for families to hear about an event and decide to send their children to our church. But what are we doing to actually, really reach out to those who are not part of a church in our communities? Consider the following questions -
  • Do you know the statistics for your community? 
  • Do you know the number of families in your community? 
  • Do you know how these families "break down" based on income, race, age, employment, education, marital status and housing status? 
These are important things to know if you are serious about reaching out the the people in your community. Check city-data for free info on your community. Just like it is difficult to move forward in your ministry without a specific, written vision/purpose statement, it is difficult to reach out to your community if you do not understand who the people actually are in your community. One thing city-day provides statistics on is the percentage of people in your community who are affiliated with a church. For my community 52.86% of the people are affiliated with a church. I find this shocking. If any community in this country is a "Normal Rockwell-type" community, mine is . . . or at least it was when I was a child. Now nearly half the people in my community are not affiliated with a church.

So, how can we reach out to our community? I mean really reach out - not just hold more events and "hope" people show up. Consider the following idea -
  • Start a "one-square-block-at-a-time" outreach. Involve teams of families in your church and "map-out" one square block around your church. Assign family teams specific portions of this one square block area and send these teams out to go door-to-door and invite the people they find to a picnic, family movie, family game night - anything which is fun, free and will not be an opportunity to "preach" at them. Just a time for family fun. Period. The goal is to build relationships with the people in your community.
  • Send your family teams back to their area every month - or at least every other month to communicate you are serious about wanting to get to know them. Obviously if someone asks you to not come back, you would need to respect their wishes, but the point of this is to invest your time, efforts and people in showing your community you care and you want to know them.
  • Send your family teams back around holidays with a basket of cookies, flowers/plants, or a "portable picnic - sandwiches, chips, juice, cookies - to just "touch bases" and say hello again. 
I believe people tend to be very skeptical. If you show up at their door one time, they do not necessarily believe you really care or will ever really be back. If you make a commitment to really reach your community - you have to be in it for the long haul. Give it a try! See if a "One-Square-Block-at-a-Time Outreach" might help you truly connect with the people in your community!

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