7 Questions for Community Engagement

Does your church have a front porch, and other questions to ask yourself

1. Does your church have a front porch? Most churches don’t have any vestibules to their community. Is your church a third place for your community?

2. Is your church pedestrian friendly? Most churches are more car friendly than walk friendly or bike friendly, with easy-to-find parking lots and hard-to-find walkways and bike paths.

3. Are you setting a table for your neighborhood? The church can do potlucks, but can you do block parties? Have you ever considered turning your parking lot into a tailgating party? I call church tailgating parties “tale-gating” parties.

4. Does your church love its ZIP code enough to cry over it? Jesus cried over a person (Lazarus) and a place (Jerusalem). Does your church know its ZIP code enough to cry over it? How can you help your people to become topophiliacs (lovers of a place)?

5. Is your church a franchise church or an artisan church—a church rooted in a unique social and demographic landscape? In an artisan church (but not asphalt church) there is harmony with the habitat.

6. What’s your story? Stories are not idle, and tales are not trifling. Stories are revolutions, but only if they are authentic. What is an authentic story? One that has provenance, the individual watermarks of the homemade, homespun, fresh-baked, straight-from-the-oven. Do your stories come with a provenance that is local and seasonal?

7. Are you creative? The church is a place that worships God. What does God do? God creates. Christians are supposed to be closer to the Creator than anyone. So where ought the most creative place be? Why is the church the last place anyone expects creativity? If your church is creative it will draw artists. Do you have an abundance of artists in your midst?

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Leonard Sweet is an author and professor at Drew University, George Fox University and Tabor College, and chief contributor to Sermons.com.