Where the Locals Go

Next time you’re in town, stop for a moment and listen. Coffee cups filling, cars rounding a corner, friends chatting at the crosswalk, shop doors opening, a waitress taking orders. These are the sounds of possibility, reminders that we’re not alone and that there’s much work still to be done.

We’re continuing with a focus on being the hands and feet of Christ in a desperate world. Last week I offered some seasonal outreach ideas; now let’s get local. Here are opportunities to engage the community at any point in time.

1. Host open classes that meet real needs—parenting, finances, grieving, literacy, etc.

2. Throw a cookout for the members of the local business association with no agenda but to be a blessing to those who have planted themselves in your community.

3. Put on an area art show. Use your church building to host local artists and their work; encourage creative people in the church, high school students, and professional artists to get involved in displaying their pieces; hold a panel discussion or a few artist talks; set up a station for people to create individual or group artwork.

4. Get involved with your local food pantry or clothes closet. Don’t have one? Start it up!

5. Have a princess day—let all of the little girls in the community dress up and come for primping, princess lessons, a royal tea party, and hangout time with “real princesses” (church girls in costume, the more elaborate the better). This can also be adapted for a boys’ knight event.

6. Host a family movie night. Get a popcorn machine, set up a decked-out concession stand, and encourage kids to come in their jammies.

7. Partner with schools for tutoring/mentoring. Get as involved here as you possibly can.

8. Put on an Extreme Home Makeover for a needy family in the community.

9. Invite major local players for a church reality check night. Let the mayor, chief of police, anti-drug coalition director, resource center director, principals, and others with community insight speak on the area’s tough issues and brainstorm ways the church can begin addressing each.

10. Assemble appreciation baskets for community servants (e.g., teachers, firefighters, police, town workers, etc.). Include treats and small gift cards.

11. Host a local talent show and follow it up with a battle of the bands.

12. Target specific locations/groups of people with acts of kindness on a regular basis (like adopting the apartment building next door or the Muslim family down the street or the anger management group in town).

13. Provide a townwide oil change day for single moms.

14. Hold “church at the park” once a year so that onlookers can come see what we do in an open, nonthreatening environment. Bonus points for providing either breakfast before or lunch afterward.

15. Set up church-sponsored geocaching trails around the area, encouraging locals to get out and appreciate the community’s beauty.

Sure, there are big needs all over the world, but Jesus saved you here and now for a purpose. Look around, find what needs to be done, and roll up your sleeves. The adventure begins.

(Just as before, I urge you to plug in with your small group and let your pastor know what you’re wanting to do. Have fun!)

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