Churches meet in physical locations. In our mobile societies, we often will drive considerable distances to attend the assembly of choice; but where should we focus our efforts as local churches?

Please bear in mind I’m not taking away from sharing Christ with our neighbours, no matter how far we may live from our church. But where should that church as an organization reach out?  I’d suggest that as a body, the place we need to concentrate on in on the immediate geographical area the church resides in. And it shouldn’t be just churchy stuff we do there; we need to be good neighbours and put a face on the organization. We need to be active in the community – attend community association meetings, join the PTA, and volunteer where we can wherever help is needed.

A few weeks back, we had a Remembrance Day ceremony at the community hall where our church meets. Several hundred people were there, and it was a great chance to show up as church members to demonstrate  that we too, remembered the fallen. There was a reception afterwards, with lots of food and coffee and opportunities to visit with our neighbours, and afterwards, a chance to clean up – and show that as a church body we cared about that too.

For years I ran a preteens group out of our church. Three things happened: first of all, the kids had a safe place they could come to to blow off steam. We played noisy games, with lots of physical activity and fun. Secondly, the gospel was preached. Each session would feature a brief lesson from the Bible and a sharing time.

But I’d like to point out that the third thing is that this activity introduced the church to the community. They got to know the people who worked with their children and found out that we were actually normal people, sometimes harried but doing our best to love and help their kids develop into good people. We built relationships: and that is what it’s all about. We shouldn’t be there to just shove something down peoples’ throats or to win debates; we are there to be friends, to care for them and their children, and show God’s love in practical ways.

The local church needs to build relationships in the community it resides in because that’s where people get to know us. If we remain insular and aloof, we do that community a disservice; we’re not shining our light but hiding in our safe little churches.

Before the advent of the automobile, it used to be that all churches were community churches; and although we can now drive miles to get to our meeting of choice, many who we meet will turn the the church that is the closest to them. That’s why we need to bloom where we’re planted: then, and only then, will they want to hear what we have to say. You have to earn the right to be heard, whether it’s with people who live near us or the community in which our church is situated. Both are vital.