How to be a “go to” church

gotoWe have our “go to” experts on computer question.  We have our “go to” games in children and youth ministry.  We have “go to” websites for ideas and inspiration.  How can we make our church a “go to” place in the community.

Our team served in various missions around Omaha, NE yesterday.  During one of the conversations, the mission leader mentioned something about a church becoming such a place.  The concept really inspired me.  There are probably lots of ways our church is already a go-to place.  But what else can we do?

Here are some thoughts:

1)  Create opportunities for your church to reach the community without any strings attached.  Once a week community dinners are becoming quite common in many churches.  In this no-questions-asked format, the whole community is invited to come, have a great free meal and be in community with others.  There are many other ways for this to happen as well.

2)  Child Care – What if your church was the “go to” place for child care.  It may be a full blown day care, a pre-school or just certain evenings throughout the year when parents can drop off their children to be cared for while they take a break.  Often we talk about families being busy.  But add to that scenario a single mom working two jobs and it gets really tough. Could your church be her “go to” place for some personal time.

3)  VBS – Along with children’s ministry, there are some times when church leaders make light of the fact that some families attend every VBS in town –  hopping from one to the next all summer.  What’s wrong with that?  It may be a legitimate need for the family to have something their child can do for a few hours each day.  And the church has the opportunity to love those kids like Jesus does.  Celebrate every single child.  And be the “go to” church for every family in your community during VBS week.

4)  Community Food Pantry – Does your church have a food pantry?  If not, does your church support your community one?  Be a part of it.  When financial hardships and crisis arises, most people naturally turn to the church.  I know the U.S culture is becoming less and less Christian.  But it’s still no surprise to me that people naturally turn to the church in times of need — the church is the body of Christ, alive in the world today. Be the “go to” place for hurting people.  Create systems, be good stewards and bind together as a community of churches if you need to, but don’t turn down the hungry.

5)  Ministry to the next generation.  What can your church do to minister to the generation?  It can be full scale staff led children, student and college ministry, or it can be a more modest few events a year to connect and share God’s love with the next generation in your community.  Figure out a way to get to them.  Every church, in some way, needs to be the “go to” place for the next generation or it’s days are numbered.

6)  Worship – Really, one primary goal for the church is to invite people to experience God’s love and companionship through worship and spiritual growth. No matter your size, style or situation, you are the “go to” place for worship in your community.  Do your best to make it good.  Don’t change times on people very often.  Be sure to be hospitable every Sunday. Always offer the good news.  Keep praying for people in your community.  Create special worship opportunities and publicize them.  Invite a special guest for worship.  Host a worship celebration outdoors during the summer.  How else can you be the place for people?

7) What is unique to you?  What is that your church is known for?  Celebrate that.  Push it.  Make it big.  Go hard so that you become the “go to” place for whatever it is that makes you unique.  There are too many to list – AA, divorce recovery, a host of other addition, recovery or support groups, scouting, community meetings, prison ministry, Upward, Christmas eve services, video ministry, preaching, music, musicals, dramas, bands, car clubs, motorcycle clubs, mission trips, ramp building and the list goes on and on and on. God has gifted each church with the right people to be extraordinary in the kingdom.  Discover your place as the “go to” church.

I realize the church needs to go beyond it’s walls.  But this “go to” phrase struck a chord with me.   I once heard someone ask this great question:  “If your church closed it’s doors today, would anyone in the community notice?”  Get with your leaders, dream, plan and assess what your church is doing to be a light in the community.  Then, go after it and become the best in the name of Jesus.

Go-To: An adjective used to indicate the best or most appropriate person to be contacted for a specific reason or purpose. 

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