What Are You Known For?

October 24th, 2012
This article is featured in the Outreach 2013 (Nov/Dec/Jan 2012-13) issue of Circuit Rider

Does your community know your church exists? If so, how do they describe you? Are you described as “elderly,” “boring,” “anglo,” “unfriendly,” or “hard to break into?” Try this experiment: ask some neighbors what they know about the church that is yours, without telling them you are from the church. You might be amazed by their responses.

Our church was known in the community as a preschool. We house an excellent preschool that isn’t a part of the church, but there was more activity and excitement going on in the preschool than in the church, so some thought we were a preschool. Others knew we were a church, and described us as old and tired—not very exciting.

Then one day CrossRoads became serious about outreach and began feeding the homeless and hungry on our property. Suddenly, we were known as “the church that feeds the homeless.” After a zoning battle, we stopped feeding on our property, but we were still known as “the church that feeds the homeless.”

We started a Farmer’s Market. The farmers donate leftover food to the church, and we take it to the hungry in our congregation and to the local food banks weekly. We continued feeding a group of children living in poverty. Now many in the community describe us as “the church that has that farmer’s market and feeds the homeless.”

Outreach will change who you are. It will change your insides. And it will change how your light shines in the community. Jesus admonished us to not hide our light.

You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.

Someday we will be known for what goes on inside our buildings during worship, where people meet God and each other. But first, we have to be visible out in the world. I’m praying your church shines a floodlight of God’s love in your community.

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