Reading Our Community
Context is everything when it comes to being an engaged church. The church needs to discern with God the particular needs in the community. To fail to thoroughly contextualize your church will lead to immense frustration and potentially failure of the church itself.
According to Cameron Harder, author of Discovering the Other:
The first move in building community must be to increase our awareness of each other. We have to hunt each other, do some research, start listening. Community begins when people seek to know each other. Remember that old song, ‘Getting to know you, getting to know all about you’? That’s the first step in the love that binds us together.
According to another author, putting your finger to the pulse of your context is all about awareness, understanding, evaluation, experiments, and commitment. (Mark Branson. Starting Missional Churches)
As we observe our community, let’s we consider where people are, what they are doing, and how they interact with others. To truly get the pulse of our community, we must engage others with intentional conversation to discover their hopes, dreams, and needs. Your new vision will be developed after visits in the community, listening to people’s stories, and reflecting on how God can use these encounters. Contextualization is all about intersecting what God is already doing with the needs of the community around you.
Today, I would like for each of us to observe the community. Be brave. In the next day or so, seize an opportunity to share in a conversation with someone in the community that you do not already know. Listen to their story: their hopes, dreams, and needs. Get to know them as a person beyond the job or role they fill in society.
When you get home, say a prayer for that person and journal about your experience. Where have you seen God at work?