Proverbs 22:1 says,
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
This verse relates to our personal reputations and character but also to our churches. Every church has a reputation in the community. Does your church have a good name? Is your church a good neighbor?
I am sure you have seen the commercial by State Farm that says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” John Beukema wrote an article for Leadership magazine a few years ago based on that same logo, “Like a Good Neighbor.” He mentions five areas that churches should consider as they seek to be good neighbors in their community. See how your church measures up and where you can make some improvements.
Are We Caring for Our Property?
Certainly there are more pressing aspects of ministry, but a battered sign, overgrown hedges, peeling paint, or burned-out lights send the wrong message to the neighbors. We cannot ignore our visible presence and allow our surroundings to become uninviting.
Do We Join Community Events?
Joining into town events is not a waste of time. Our congregation takes part in our town’s annual “Christmas Walk.” For this event we open up our church and offer refreshments and music that people can wander in and enjoy for as long as they want. Such participation gives a face for our church to the community.
Are We Communicating?
Prior to the expansion of our church, the building committee invited our neighbors for an evening of coffee and discussion of our plans. At the meeting they told us that our Spanish congregation was lingering on church property until two in the morning—keeping the neighbors awake. Communicating with our neighbors allowed us to learn about this issue and satisfy our neighbors before they were militantly opposed to us.
Have We Shown Kindness?
We try to find ways to let our neighbors know we care about their salvation and are ready to help them in other ways, so that they don’t hear from us only when we want something from them.
Can We Turn the Other Cheek?
One church neighbor built a decorative barrier between his property and ours. That spring he claimed our snowplow had broken sections of the barrier. Rather than haggling with him, we felt it important to settle the issue to his satisfaction, so we had his wall rebuilt. The good will this created was well worth the price.
One of the challenges that church’s face is looking for new ways to get into the fabric of our communities. I would love to hear ways you are accomplishing this where you serve. Let’s lead our churches to be really good neighbors which will open up doors of ministry.
Keep the Son in Your Eyes,
Great points, Mike. I especially liked what you said about participating in community events. We sometimes get so caught up in our own busy church calendars that we miss opportunities to reach out by participating in the life of the community.