Small churches often face a unique set of challenges that prevent them from making the kind of difference in their community for which they wish. Such lists include, among other things, the challenges associated with financial resources, facilities, paid staff, and even location. While small churches should treat each of these limitations as potential obstacles for growing the size of their church, it would be a mistake to think such limitations inhibit a church’s ability to love their community well.
Here are 3 ways a small church, regardless of size, can love its city.
1. Be a church OF your city.
Look around your community. What do you see? WHO do you see?
One of the best ways small churches can love their city well, is to become the kind of church where people in the community are comfortable attending. This might mean a congregation begins by taking an internal audit in order to examine whether a group of people may feel unwelcome or unrepresented.
A quick way to measure whether or not your church is of your community is to look at the census data for your area. Does your congregation’s ethnic diversity match the percentages represented in your city? If not, then consider asking, “What is one step you could take to include or make space for a group that is underrepresented?”
2. Be a church FOR your city.
Churches often assume they know what their community needs. While often filled with good intentions, those intentions can miss the mark and sometime even do more harm than good.
Here is an easy way to become a church for your city: ASK your city what it needs.
Meet with the Mayor’s office, with school officials, and Not-for-Profit organizations already working in your city and ask them how you can help invest in the lives of those living all around you. If your church simply cannot own an event (that is host, sponsor, or put on the event or program), then you might consider partnering with your city by offering volunteers, or simply promoting one of the events happening in your community even if you cannot do anything to directly help with it.
3. Leverage what is good about your church’s identity for the good of your city.
The truth is, you may be limited in who you attract to your church. Not everyone will want to be a part of a small volunteer-run organization that worships the way you do, but your influence on your community does not have to experience those same limitations. You may even find that there are those who will join you outside your church that would not normally join you inside.
Ask, what does your church naturally care deeply about? What gifts are already present in your congregational DNA? Does your church have a special heart for children, overlooked and underserved populations, addiction recovery, or something else? Discover your church’s passion and strengths and in turn leverage your church’s identity for the good of your city!