The Role of a Church in Community

Awareness is the First Step
This week as I was reading Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life by Robert Lupton, I was really hit by how the local church population has changed so drastically over the past decades.  Thinking back to when local neighborhood was the primary social environment, the church was always a benefit to the local community because all the members were part of the local community and wanted to see it grow.  Now almost all churches have become commuter churches and people drive from miles away to come and have no invested interest in the local community.
In my opinion, the new look to churches is not inherently bad, it is only when we, the congregation, stop caring about the local community and only go to the church area to go to church does it become evil.  My church, for example, does outreach programing, which is a vital part of the church without a doubt, but it is clear throughout the Bible (Ezekiel 16:49-50, Matthew 25:34-40, etc.), that we should be providing for the physical needs of, first the church members, then the community.  We have, with some success, been able to provide for the church, but we rarely look out to see what our community needs, and I know this is a trend in many churches.
The first step and what I’m calling you to do to fix this is to be aware.  Don’t just drive to church and then drive home after.  Look around in the community and find out the needs of the area.  Start filling those needs, both physical and spiritual.  We are called to love, serve, and provide for those in need, so let’s start by becoming aware of how we can love, serve, and provide Biblically and practically.

-Joseph Nishimoto