Insignificance. Most of our nightmares revolve around this. We all want to know we are making an impact that will be felt long after we are gone. We all long for our destiny to serve, but our hearts beat even harder to leave behind a legacy. Pastors, we have decided to join God in the family business of transformation because the gospel is the legacy we want to leave in others. Beyond this feeling in our gut, this desire to leave a legacy is latent in the collective heart of every church.
If your church ceased to exist would your city notice? This question is coming up at nearly every gathering of church leaders I am part of. Churches are no longer content to set up shop and do business as usual. Churches should be a gift to their city, a tangible expression of God’s love in a broken place. Our places have cracks of brokenness, but the gospel is the mortar that fills those cracks.
Perhaps you are part of a church startup or you are transitioning your church to become more of a blessing to your city. Here are a few places to start as you seek to leave a gospel legacy in your place.
Churches should be a gift to their city, a tangible expression of God’s love in a broken place.
UNLEASH CREATIVITY INTO YOUR CITY, NOT JUST INTO YOUR CHURCH.
Often our best creativity is spent on church programs. This is not bad, it’s just incomplete. Those in your church need help identifying their gifts and releasing them into valuable spaces in the city. The best way to do this is modeling with encouragement. You should identify a small area you can offer your gifts to your city and then encourage them to do the same. I lead our church staff meetings, but I also lead the school board meetings for our neighborhood elementary school. Help your people translate their gifts to the greater good of the city and give them permission to serve and watch what happens!
EQUIP YOUR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.
Most of you reading this have been trained in some fashion to understand your context, but perhaps those in your congregation have not. Perhaps the most valuable equipping you can bring them is in how to understand the cracks, gaps and needs in their their neighborhood. Train them to spot brokenness, social rhythms and the joys of their place, and then give them permission to spend energy ministering there.
Train them to spot brokenness, social rhythms and the joys of their place, and then give them permission to spend energy ministering there.
PRAY FOR YOUR CITY, NOT JUST YOUR CHURCH AND YOUR NATION.
Our actions will fall in line with our passionate prayers. If we care to impact our cities, first, we must fall in love with them through prayer. We should continue to pray for our the world, our nation, and our families, but we should add our city to the list. As we begin to pray for the brokenness in our cities we will get the opportunity to become the answer to our prayers.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY.
Consistency breeds credibility. If you want the church to be seen as an agent of love and blessing, a needed commodity in your city, make sure to think about longevity. I have seen a lot of churches start complicated programs and initiatives to serve their city that they simply could not sustain. Make sure to set your self up for the long haul, to start small seeds that can be cultivated for years to come.
As we begin to pray for the brokenness in our cities we will get the opportunity to become the answer to our prayers.
Serving your city is not limited to the big, young, innovative, new, cutting-edge or urban-focused churches. We all need to pitch in and get our hands dirty as we leave a gospel trail behind us.
Published May 12, 2016