When you walk outside your home, what do you see?
As you pass the corner store or gas station, shop at your local market or walk down the street, it’s hard to ignore the brokenness around us. From physical and spiritual poverty to broken families to depression and more — it’s everywhere. Whether you’re in the wealthiest ZIP code or the poorest neighborhood, the need for holistic restoration — emotional, spiritual, social and economic — is palpable.
Restoration is the recovery and pursuit of God’s design for holistic health. Churches and Christians everywhere want to be a tangible expression of gospel restoration where they live, work and play, but it can be hard to know where to start. The emotional, spiritual, physical and economic needs of any community seem as vast as the ways to help meet them.
Here are five ways to discover needs in your community and be part of gospel restoration:
Begin by praying for yourself, your church and your neighborhood. Walk around your neighborhood and ask God to show you the needs of your community. Pray for and over the local school system and the children and the teachers and parents in your community. If you know any by name, pray specifically for them. You may also be able to find a staff listing on the school website, and you can pray for each staff member by name. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with those you come in contact with.
2. Listen and partner with others.
Listen to your neighbors, community leaders and elected officials. Each of these have their own sets of relational capital, resources and platforms. Build relationships with other pastors and leaders of nonprofits, local business and other faith-based religious organizations and churches. Go on a ride along with local law enforcement and listen to their perspective on the area. Go to city council meetings to hear concerns of those around you. Always ask yourself, “Who can I learn from?”
3. Ask questions.
One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is your curiosity, and part of being curious about others’ lives is asking good questions. The men and women who have been meeting the needs of your community have likely learned a lot along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they’ve learned and about how they got involved in that work.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What’s your story? How did you get involved in this work?
- What’s it like to live or work here? What’s been fulfilling about living or working here?
- What do you dream for this neighborhood or community?
- How would you describe the greatest need for your neighborhood, community or organization?
- How can I serve you?
- What can we do together?
- How can our church be a good neighbor?
Remember, you’re not merely asking: “What’s wrong?” or “What needs to be done?” or “What can we do to improve the place?”
4. Focus on serving, not leading.
Earn their trust and credibility by serving, not by positioning yourself as an expert. Learn by doing, not by leading. Be a faithful partner and friend to those you are serving. Pay attention to the goals and dreams of the community — especially the ones that may not be explicitly shared by residents but are implicitly shared in conversations, actions and expectations. As you build relationships the Lord will open doors for you to share the hope that is in you.
5. Invite your church.
Invite your local church into what you’re doing by sharing what you’re learning and asking them to prayerfully consider using their own passions for the needs of the community. Encourage them to engage with humility, a servant’s heart and a spirit of fellowship.
Want to take the next step to discovering needs in your community? Check out How to discover needs in your community at SendNetwork.com.
Published January 6, 2021