Three Ways Churches Think They Are Known in Their Communities

Usually when I ask a question on social media, I expect a decent number of responses. Church leaders and members are typically gracious to me and share their opinions readily.

But when I asked a question about the reputation of their churches in the community, I was inundated with responses. Many wanted to share the good and the bad. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of the study was the three distinct groups in which the responses fell.

The question was simple: “What is your church known for in its community?”

Within a few minutes of my post, many responses came forth. After I read and added all of them, I saw three patterns emerge.

  1. About one-half of the churches are known for ministries that require the community to come to the church itself. Great preaching. Incredible worship services. A friendly church. Great events at the church. How our members care for one another. You get the picture. These are all great responses, but they require the community to come to the church. If community members do not set foot on the church’s campus, they will never know about the ministries of the church. For the majority of the churches, the idea of community ministry is “you come to us.”
  2. About one-fourth of the churches cited great ministries in and to the community. Partnering with schools in the community. Serving the community with food and clothes. Medical and dental ministries. Ministries to families, parents, and children in the community. The list goes on and on. It was exciting to read how many churches demonstrate their love for their community by actually going into the community.
  3. About one-fourth of the churches said they were known for negative reasons. Preacher-eater churches. Congregational fights and splits. Legalism. Unfriendliness. One church leader said his church was known for two murders that occurred a few years apart on the church site. Ouch.

The social media poll did encourage me in many ways. Many of our churches are doing an incredible job connecting with and ministering to the communities in which they are located. And though I am certainly glad to see many church members excited about what is taking place on their church campuses, I fear many members think that community ministry means, “Y’all come to us, and we will minister to you.”

Of course, I am concerned, but not necessarily surprised, about the negative perceptions of some churches in the community. I pray those churches will begin to make a positive impact in the locations where they serve.

What is your church known for in the community? What are your members actually doing in the community and for the community? Let me hear from you.

Posted on July 2, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • In the Chicago area, we have megachurches like Chapel, WillowCreek, and they are known as businesses. I had a bad experience at the Chapel and attend a Korean church now. Churches should switch to a different model that is biblically aligned.
    see My Dream Church

  • When I first arrived as the new pastor at our church it had the reputation of the “church of the pastor who robbed a handicapped man of his money as well as the church where the pastor and wife are swinging…” so… the community did not have the greatest view of the church. One of the first changes I made was the branding of the church to create a new face in the community and to start from scratch with rebuilding or rebuilding our reputation. I built a great team around me that would catch the vision of serving the community and doing it with purpose and doing it first class. So, last year we held our first annual community Easter egg hunt with a response of almost 500 first time guest showing up. Instantly you could see a shift in the mindset of our people as well as the community, this year we held the sencond annual community Easter egg hunt with a whopping turnout of 1,200 guest!
    Over the past two years we have seen a major turn around in the attitude of the community towards us but most of all is the passion has been restored in the saints for their community and mission field.
    I’ve said all of this to simply say this… if your situation seems to far gone, don’t give up hope because the past cannot control what God has for your future… He’s simply waiting on us to release it and move forward to what He has.
    A little side note for encouragement…
    We had 45 members when I was elected pastor and since then our largest Sunday has been 176 with an average of 120-150 every Sunday.
    God is able to restore a church!

  • Paul Curry says on

    I have only been at my church for about six months, but I was able to connect with the chamber of commerce to do the opening prayer for the Independence Day celebration and give out American Flags to our vets present. It was an honor to me to honor them. In my short time at Green Fork, I have been diligent trying to connect our church with the outreach efforts within our city. Why recreate the wheel, when there isn’t enough people to push the wheels already there in the community?
    As a side note, thank you gentlemen for helping a small, rural pastor see God given opportunities to serve. Your insights have help me greatly!
    Bro. Paul Curry

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