What does it mean to be strategic as a church? Sometimes the word “strategic” feels manipulative as if the church shouldn’t try to reach people other than through opening our doors and hanging out our sign. This works if the culture at large is Christian and it is normative to worship on Sunday mornings. But what happens when we move into a post-Christian culture? One that offers a host of alternatives for Sunday morning? What happens when the reasons for worship attendance change?
Giving people a sense of mission while at the same time making vital connections to the world around us is strategic in that the newer generations are attracted to a larger purpose. But more importantly it is a biblical imperative to make deeper relationships with the neighbors in our community. So if it isn’t a part of a church’s identity to reach beyond its walls, it should be. Fortunately, this was a part of our church’s culture long before I arrived.
One of the partnerships is with local schools. Boulevard Academy sits almost directly across from our church property on Boulevard Avenue. Boulevard Academy is an alternate high school that helps provide many students with the opportunity to earn their diploma that they might otherwise not have. Earlier this year, we helped provide school supplies for students that are our neighbors.
As we look toward a younger clientele, our efforts at tutoring at Sunset Elementary are gearing up again. Tutoring happens during the school day and we are currently signing up interested church members who will help provide educational assistance that these students may not otherwise receive.
As we go to the other end of the educational spectrum, our presence on the University of Central Oklahoma campus is still going strong. We have a lot of new students that have connected with our church through our Wesley Foundation. As the host church, we will be helping with their Gala again this Fall on Saturday, October 13th. If you are unable to purchase tickets for that evening, you might consider donating an item for the silent auction. It is always a fun time for fellowship as we help the next generation have a spiritual outlet as they pursue their higher education.
Finally, we will have the Crop Walk the next day on Sunday, October 14th at 2:00 pm in Mitch Park. The United Methodist Church has long been a part of Church World Service which is the host organization for the Crop Walk. The money raised goes to hunger relief around the world. A good portion stays right here in Edmond supporting the Project 66 Food Pantry. This, of course, is another outlet for good Methodists as our church takes over the volunteer opportunities every Monday! Every year, I walk in the Crop Walk as it helps me to remember those around the world who live in very different situations than me.
These are just a few of the larger missional opportunities we have coming up. While we have fostered these natural relationships, I must admit that we weren’t intending to be strategic when we began to engage in them.
They seemed like natural ways that we would want to reach out to our community in love and service. In about a month, we will highlight ways in which you might also become involved in the great variety of ministries available through our church. We call it “Serve the Lord with Gladness” Sunday and this year it will be on October 28. We have it during the Sunday school hour (9:45 to 10:45) in the Christian Activity Center. It looks like an involvement fair where you can go to the tables (like Boulevard Buddies or Tutoring or Choir) to learn about specific things our church offers.
I’m very proud of the church I serve. We seek to impact our community in many positive ways and these are just a few opportunities that I’ve highlighted. It’s nice when good strategy and biblical calling coincide on the same path!
I hope you’ll join us in worship this Sunday as we worship the risen Lord together. You never know what opportunity might arise!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.