Guess what happened today, Good Friday?! Remember that baby that Jonny and his wife were expecting… for the last nine months? He made his arrival this morning, joining Mom and Dad, and big Brother! We actually had two babies born from moms in our church today, two hours apart, in the same hospital, just across the hall from each other. It was a good day in our community!
Normally we publish a blog post on Friday mornings, but we were all a little busy “integrating” with our community today – so here is a special Easter weekend edition!
We began a discussion about Integrating with Our Community this week, and we will continue it in the future for sure, but for now, let’s wrap up this week’s topic with four “community laws” I try to live by as a pastor.
Community Law #1: Love what your people love. If we as pastors are really going to love our people, that includes loving what our people love. I have never liked it when pastors told me that they have moved into a community to pastor a church, but they did not particularly like the culture of the town or the church.
In a couple weeks our theme will be Staying Put – the Benefits of a Long Ministry, in that podcast we will talk about long term ministry, and how we must love our people, and love what they love! If we choose to mock and laugh at the culture of our people, or to stand on the sidelines and watch their lives from afar, we will never have an effective ministry. And, if we can’t even integrate into the community of our own church family, we’ll never have the heart, desire, or commitment to reach into our neighborhood community.
In our town we have an annual five day Tulip Festival. The first year I was here and experienced it I did so as an outsider. I thought it was strange. Nice, but strange! After two years I realized the positive outcomes and benefits this Tulip Festival has on our community every year. I also realized how proud our people are of their town and how much they love the Tulip Festival. I chose to love what my people love. Every year I look forward to the Tulip Festival, I participate in some way, and I get to live life with people in our community. I am better for it!
Community Law #2: Love what your community loves. What are the things that set your community apart from other communities in your region of the state? Are there certain restaurants, attractions, or events for which your community is known? Is there a sports team, Philharmonic Orchestra, or other community attraction in your town? You can choose to love what your community loves.
Perhaps in your community there is an annual event or tradition at which most of the town shows up, or there is a national landmark, local attraction, or the commemoration of an historical event which draw lots of people and about which your community is proud. You can choose to love what your community loves, and in turn, love your community!
Community Law #3 - Go where your community goes. Where does your community go? Do you pass up local businesses to get a “better deal” in the next town? Unless it is absolutely cost prohibitive, you should shop in your community, and go where your community goes. Is there a park, library, or restaurant where a ton of people from your community can be found? Then you go there too! When you go where your community goes, you will be able to integrate with your community that much better.
Community Law #4 - Do what your community does. Do people in your community take care of their lawns, then take care of yours. Do they take walks in the park? Then you take walks in the park too! Do people in your community recycle, cycle, watch movies, go to the Y, attend the Opera, shop at the Farmer’s Market, walk their dogs, or fly RC planes through the park? Then you do it too. Do what your community does, and you can begin to integrate with your community.
Really Pastor, it starts with you. Will you love your people enough to love what they love? Will you love your community enough to love what they love, go where they go, and do what they do? You can do it, and you’ll be better for it, as a pastor, and as a person!
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