My (Anne Jackson) friend Adam shared some great ideas yesterday for churches (could also apply to other organizations) to become more involved and open to their communities. I found this list to be very easy to implement and practical.
- If you have a building, offer a public bathroom and shower that’s open to whomever needs it during your office hours.
- Ask every attendee to get in the habit of bringing a canned food item to church every week. Then start a food pantry that’s open a couple days a week for people to drop in.
- Buy things for the church from local suppliers. Avoid the big box (probably cheaper) stores for ones that support a local company. Encourage your church attendees to do the same.
- Encourage people who go out to lunch after church to be generous with tipping servers and conscious of how long they are staying. You want wait staffs to desire the church crowd, they are avoiding it at all costs now.
- Require church staff to live within the area you are trying to reach.
- Add a requirement to all board and staff job descriptions that they attend public meetings. (Schools, city planning, city council, county government, etc.)
- Ask adults to volunteer at the public schools. (Give staff lots of freedom to volunteer)
- Participate in organized community events. Cleaning up, planting flowers, helping with parades, etc.
- Make church property open to the public. (Playground equipment, skateboard park, community garden, host local festivals, allow the schools to hold events in the auditorium.) Better yet, turn all of your property into a community center.
- Create a culture of saying yes to community involvement instead of no.
I spent six years on staff at a few different churches, and I know sometimes the first reaction to suggestions like this is, “Well, that sounds nice, but realistically…”
Your community doesn’t care about your policies and structure.
Your community cares about how you treat them.