How does your church or school fit into your neighborhood? Are you like someone with whom your community members can chat over the fence or share a cup of coffee – or are you the stranger who lives across the alley they wave at but never talk to? The Bible says “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) How can we show love to our neighbors? By being neighborly!
There is no “one-size-fits-all” checklist for building relationships with your community, but below are some ideas for learning about your community—what the people who live around you are really like, what their dreams are, what their struggles are, and what the love of Christ will look like in your neighborhood. Then it will be up to your congregation to decide the best ways to serve them. Maybe it will be a mercy ministry to meet a physical need, maybe it will be caring for their children in some way, maybe it will be providing a needed space in the community. Listen to your community to find out how to serve it!
Building relationships with your community should start inside your congregation with prayer, conversations and encouragement. The prayer is that God will show your people how they can shine His light outside the church walls. The more encouragement and equipping of your members, the more engagement that can take place. Soon, God will be using your members as His witnesses wherever they go.
Contact Kim Hofer at the District Office to explore how one or more of these ideas might be used to build relationships in your community.
- Congregational Listening Groups
- Community Leader Survey
- Prayer Walking in your Community
- Community Survey
Targeted Mailing Lists to Reach Your Community
Let Us Help You With Targeted Mailing Lists to Reach Your Community
As you think ahead to your ministries and events planned for 2020, including Lent and Easter events, family fun days, Vacation Bible School, etc., consider how a mailing targeted to specific demographics could help you connect with your community.
The Nebraska District, in partnership with Leading Edge Mission Solutions, is able to provide congregations with free, local mailing lists based on a number of criteria. Email email@example.com to request a mailing list for the following household categories:
- children ages 0-2, 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, or 14-17;
- new movers (6 or 12 months);
- language spoken; and
- head of household age or marital status.
All requests must include at least one criteria listed above and area to be included in the search, such as zip code(s) or radius from a specific address. Please allow up to 2 weeks for processing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for more information.
Your congregation doesn’t need to wait for Lent or Advent to get our help with this mission mapping service. At any time, you can choose a demographic you’d like to target or map visitors to learn if they live near your members. Learn who lives around you so you know how to better serve them, or contact them directly to let them know of a ministry opportunity just for them.
Making Disciples for Life
Making Disciples for Life is an emphasis of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and is a partnership between individuals, congregations, districts, and the Synod to evangelize the lost, retain the faithful, strengthen congregations, and plant churches and schools. Conferences, grants, and a resource center comprise the means by which resources are shared and utilized to benefit the work of the church.
The Making Disciples for Life Resource Library is open to all and addresses topics such as: marriage and family, congregational stewardship, management and leadership, and witness and outreach (congregational and individual).
Free Social Media Images for Advent and Lent
Congregations, schools, groups and individuals who would like to post Bible verses combined with eye-catching images to their social media during the seasons of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Lent are invited to download free sets of images sized for Instagram and for Facebook. These images have no logos, and congregations and schools are invited to add their own.
Synod Media Kits for Congregational Use at Advent and Easter
Synod has made media kits available for you and your congregation to use in reaching out to your community. The items are designed to allow you to add your invitation and local details about your worship services. You are invited to use these resources to advertise your congregation or simply to generate opportunities for pastoral conversations in your community. Access the media kits here.
Parish Health Resource Library
Visit our parish health page for resources about physical, mental, and emotional health in your congregation. The lower section of this page has a library of downloads created by various LCMS entities to address outreach to and inclusion of those with various needs and abilities.
Congregational Dialogue for Caring and Effective Ministry
Growing out of frequent requests for evaluation instruments for use with church staff, “Congregational Dialog for Caring and Effective Ministry” is a manual that moves beyond critical evaluation to effective and healthy dialog.
“Congregational Dialog for Caring and Effective Ministry” lays out resources that encourage individual growth and healthy relationships, recognizes the uniqueness of ministry settings, and reflects the Lutheran understanding of church and ministry. The manual will guide you through the use of three processes, including:
- A periodic congregational study beginning with every member cottage meetings including a sharing of congregational history and self-analysis based on the letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3).
- A planned yearly dialog between the church workers and church leadership.
- An opportunity for individual growth and development for church workers seeking feedback from a selected or targeted group.
You can download this by clicking here.
"Equip, Encourage, Engage" Outreach Booklet
When printing, choose the “booklet” and “back-to-back” options on your Adobe print screen for a booklet ready to fold and staple.
"Why I Belong to Jesus" Brochure
“Why I Belong to Jesus” (which is also available in Spanish) is a little brochure that simply explains sin and grace in a way that can make sense to someone who has never heard the Gospel message. It’s a wonderful tool to share with first-time visitors to your congregation, in targeted mailings to community households, or handing out at church or school activities like Easter egg hunts or Trunk-or-Treat nights. It is also an effective witnessing tool for one-on-one conversations, providing a simple explanation of the Christian faith and justification through Jesus Christ.
Congregations are encouraged to download, print and distribute this brochure as often as they’d like. There is no copyright and no cost to use it. A text box on the last page allows for personalization and gives room for congregation name, address, service times, and contact info.
"Every One His Witness" Lutheran Evangelism
Witnessing. What’s it all about? The Every One His Witness Lutheran evangelism program puts sound doctrine into practical action for sharing the faith with people in our everyday lives.
Participants learn: What is witnessing? Why do we witness? And the “how-to” of witnessing using the LASSIE approach — Listen-Ask-Seek-Share-Invite-Encourage.
Lutheran Heritage Foundation
Lutheran Heritage Foundation (Free resources for sharing the Gospel with people who don’t speak English as a first language. LHF has translated and published hundreds of books like Luther’s Small Catechism, children’s Bible storybooks, devotions and the like into more than 100 languages, which are available at no cost to churches, missionaries and individuals wanting to share the Good News with immigrants or on short-term mission trips.)
Synod Resources on Social Issues
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod provides a number of resources and information for individuals and congregations on a variety of social issues including: racism, disability, child abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, abortion, immigration, persecution, marriage, sexuality, and religious liberty. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.lcms.org/social-issues
"Engaging the Wandering" Workshops
Reaching out to inactive members is an important part of the mission work that the Lord calls and enables us to do.
To help equip you to reach out to inactive members of your church, you can attend an Engaging the Wandering Workshop. Participants will see how much Jesus loves those who have wandered from the flock and will learn caring ways to gently restore them to the Body of Christ.
Contact Kim Hofer for information on holding an Engaging the Wandering Workshop at your church.
Congregations, leaders, and related organizations connected and growing in their mission of discipling the saved and proclaiming Christ to the lost.