Moving a group of people from a perceived outward focused value, to an actual outward focused life-style value takes practice, time, vision casting and focused attention. If I ask, 'Do you value reaching out to our community?' Most people in an outward focused / externally focused church would say yes. If I asked, 'When is the last time you personally participated and actually touched a life with the Good News in word or in deed?' The response would be varied.
Actual values are the values we embrace which guide our beliefs and and propel us toward action. So the challenge: How do we nurture people from merely mental accent, toward an outward focused life in action?
'Write the vision and make it plain.' Vision and Mission is all important. Is your vision and mission reflected by what you say, how you give, and how you live? I am convinced most mission / vision statements are not clear or memorable, nor are they doable. Think about your church. Do people know what you are about? Is action encouraged?
Valleydale is one church who attempts to clearly connect vision and mission to all who attend. Their Values are: Worship God, Connect with Others, Serve the World. Walking into their building each statement is extremely visible as are their connection kiosks. Friendly people welcome people answer questions and nudge people toward action. Having a clear, simple, visible and easy to remember value / mission statement is one step to help people move from attenders to participants. The next step is achieved by creating on-ramps so people can Worship God, Connect with Others, and Serve the World.
Cincy Vineyard, a church in Cincinnati Ohio. Emblazoned on the building is the phrase...Small things done with great love will change the world. No mistake here. Value and Mission clearly communicated. To help people connect the dots they create doable serve-other opportunities to nudge the Vineyard people toward their community.
Develop a clearly defined connections pathway. The Church of the Highlands connects discipleship with outward-focused-ness. They are intentional. It's interesting that when they establish a new site church in an area of the city, they list the site pastors name, contact info and also a key connections person name and contact info. The message being sent, 'We believe serving others is part of a disciples pathway.' Each week an opportunity is presented for people catch the vision, to grow and embrace their personal pathway.
Having such clearly defined pathway helps people move forward toward action. Also, highlighting a specialized connections person creates a touch point for every person who attends and chooses to grow.
A deeper connections happens by developing relationships through listening to a persons story, then helping the person discover their passion through training, and finally, inviting them to serve others. This process becomes creatively normative.
Create Community on ramps.
Each year I begin to think about our community. What's happening, when, where? How can we connect to what is going on in our community? Or I ask, What have we been uniquely called to do and be in our community? I plan accordingly. If our ideas match our values and our mission we move forward with action.
At our core, we are mercy driven. We are called to remember the poor and the less served of our community. Each week hundreds of people are cared for in practical ways, breakfast, groceries, and prayer.
We are also kindness driven. We want to leave the city of Dayton better than we found it. So, we look for opportunities and create opportunities to serve our community in practical ways.
We are Kingdom driven. We want the Good News of the Kingdom of God to impact the people within our sphere of influence. Creating God Space where God things can happen.
God space is a tangible space that we can create by faith. God space is an atmosphere, or an environment, where God’s presence, goodness, kindness, knowledge, and power are present to nurture faith in another human being.
So we create community on ramps, and create touch points where we intentionally go out into our community by faith. Our acts of service, or our deeds of kindness create God Space, where He can do what He does best... draw people to His Son. Our actions often enable opportunities for our words to be heard, and prayers to be prayed.