Meeting Community Needsby Judy Cintron - Director of Restoration | Real Life Ministries Texas, Tomball, TX
If you want to understand your community, and what the needs are, spend a lot of time out there. Every place you go and every person you talk to outside the walls of your church can be a God ordained moment if you choose to be intentional and interruptible. I am blessed to say that our church loves our community, and our local community loves us back. Our pastor encourages our staff to not sit in our office but go out and be in the community and get to know people.
When we planted our church 6 years ago, the first thing I did was visit every coffee shop and locally owned restaurant in a 2-mile radius of our church. I opened business accounts with local vendors. I got to know owners and wait staff. Our town has a little main street shopping area. I went shopping and got to know the owners and salespeople.
Being interested in people and asking good questions gives people an opportunity to be known. Don’t just jump in with a speech about your church. Establish a relationship before you start telling them how you plan to make an impact in the community. Most the time I just introduce myself as Judy, not Judy who is on staff at Real Life. Think about it, most people don’t say their name and where they work at the beginning of the introduction. If you do that, they will make preconceived ideas about who you are and what you want. I wait for them to ask where I work, or I wait till we have an established relationship.
Get to know the people at public works, city hall, school district, and the community center. I introduced myself to the directors of organizations like the food pantry, pregnancy center, and our first responders. I offered to take them out to lunch as a gesture of appreciation for what they do for our community. I stayed curious and asked lots of questions. Our church joined the Chamber of commerce and we entered and won first place at their annual parade. I got involved in our city council and community center. I offered to get volunteers to serve at community events like a 5K run and pass out water at one of the stops. I heard that there was a Veterans bike ride coming through town, so I organized a group who made sighs to cheer them on as they passed through the city. I visited the community center often and made friends with staff and people there for classes and events. We wore shirts that had our church name on it when we served, but we did not push our church on anyone. We were so friendly, fun, and helpful that people asked us to tell them more about who we were.
Now, 6 years later our community impact is having eternal significance. I have had the privilege to serve on boards, pray and speak at community events, sit in a police roll call room to pray with officers during tough times. I’m on a board representing 23 churches and I get to speak into the idea of building a discipleship relationship not just making a transaction when it comes to assisting people at the community food pantry and giving financial aid.
We have people on campus attending pregnancy and parenting classes led by our local pregnancy center, veterans gatherings, marriage classes and people showing up every Thursday night for recovery. At least a third of them maybe more came to one of these ministries before they ever stepped foot at church on Sunday morning. They did not just hear from us that we love our community, they saw that we were invested and love our community. The heart of the community looks different in each city, town, or county. A one size fits all approach does not work. But word travels fast when you are genuine, selfless, kind, and don’t have an agenda other than being the hands and feet of Jesus.
by Judy Cintron – Director of Restoration
Real Life Ministries Texas
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