Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Taken from Growing Healthy Churches April 2014 E-Newsletter
Fourteen months ago a declining congregation of less than one hundred people went through a church consultation. One key result was that the congregation needed to become much more involved with their community. Taking this advice to heart the people reached out to an elementary school with whom, they had a relationship, though not an overly positive one. A large grocery chain was offering coupons to help students purchase computers and note pads for school work. When a customer purchased a requisite amount of groceries they received coupons. The church body collected over a thousand of these coupons. The church then displayed them in a booklet and took the coupons to the local school and gave them to the principle, telling her they were for the school. This gift led to a continual connection of ministry that currently exists between the school and the church. Recently the church, in a Sunday service, honored the school, the faculty and the children. Their attendance that day almost doubled and the church is now seen as a place of service and love by those leading the school. By the way, in the last twelve months the congregation has grown by fifteen percent, some of which is conversion growth.
One way for small churches, often with limited resources, to begin to change their momentum and see growth, is to reach out in small but meaningful ways, to serve local communities. Recently I heard of a church that in one year has doubled in attendance from twenty to forty people, during the Eater season, distributing five hundred boxes of cookies to their little town. They want the people to know they care for them. Another pastor in a congregation of less than seventy people has led the church people to reach out to their local school. It is making a difference in both the church’s sphere of influence and in growth. The pastor said the change for him came when he realized he had not been called to be the pastor to his church but to the community.
There is one other factor. Each story I’ve shared is occurring in congregations that do not see these outreach services as one time events but ones to be practiced continually. They also recognize that there must be strategies to move from the initial acts of service to next steps that help lost people meet their greatest need which is connection to their Savior Jesus Christ.[/vc_column][/vc_row]