We’re starting to ask some new questions at Wieuca. Or, more appropriately, we’re increasing our focus on questions that churches have been asking for a long time. What do we have to offer our community? Where is the real need in our neighborhood? How can we serve our church members and our neighbors in a way that makes a real impact for God in their lives?
The simple answer is that we offer salvation through Jesus Christ, a supportive community for Christian growth and discipleship, and an effective platform from which to reach the unchurched. But our answers need to go beyond what we do to how we do it. And they need to reflect a burning desire to understand those we seek to minister to. We need to know how to share the burdens of our community and provide God-driven answers and support to help our neighbors meet the challenges of their everyday lives.
As churches seek to be effective outposts for God’s mission in their communities, they must engage in constant assessment. The questions we ask don’t change, but the answers change constantly.
The answers change because the giftedness and capability of our congregation changes. The passion and God-given mission of our particular kingdom outpost changes. Externally, the demographic make-up of our community changes. The cultural norms and religious identity of our neighbors change. And assumptions about and familiarity with what it means to be part of a Christian community changes.
As we start to think with renewed focus about how to best serve our neighbors, let me offer my preliminary thoughts. First, like many congregations, we serve in a community where, for the most part, the physical and material needs of our neighbors are already met, often in abundance. Most people would look at a neighborhood like ours and assume that most of the families around our church lack for nothing. I don’t think that’s true, though.
We live in a neighborhood where families are often over-scheduled, over-stressed, and over-extended. To make matters worse, traditional structures of family support like stay-at-home parents and extended families are in short supply. Although we don’t always see it on the outside, we live in a neighborhood where families often lack the social support structures necessary to make sure that their mental, emotional and spiritual health needs are met.
What if we could offer to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of our community with the same abundance that their physical and material needs are often met?
Christian community is about more than sharing in religious instruction and spiritual experience. It’s about sharing life together. It’s about chili cook-offs and movie nights and small group fellowship and basketball games in the gym and family trips to the zoo and bridge clubs and senior safety seminars. It’s about helping people create space for God and family in their lives.
It’s about providing a supportive framework for families when the treadmill starts to run a little too fast. It’s about helping empty nesters adjust to new realities—and new freedoms—when children leave home. It’s about connecting senior adults to Christian communities that provide outlets for service and fellowship.
God is present in every aspect of our lives and God is honored when we mutually commit ourselves to building supportive relationships with each other. That’s what the “Connect.” portion of our “Worship.Connect.Serve.” strategy is all about.
We’re committed to finding new and better ways for you to connect with other Wieucans because we know that as we connect with each other we give God new opportunities to connect with us and grow our community. In the coming weeks and months, look for opportunities to get more connected to this community and help us as we dream about new ways for Wieuca to meet the often unseen but always compelling needs of our neighbors. Everybody wins—God’s kingdom included—when we invest in each other.