By: Daryl Crouch
*The following practical outreach strategies were originally published in Christianity Today. The author, Daryl Crouch, is senior pastor of Green Hill Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
3 Ways to Partner with Your City
Four years after my first conversation with the city manager (see the previous article How to Serve Your City When You Aren’t a Megachurch), our church is still learning what it takes to become an indispensable partner in the community. Here are three principles that guide us:
- Focus on friendships.As church leaders, we are conditioned to prioritize relationships that will directly benefit our churches. While that approach may produce some measure of progress, it makes outsiders feels like projects rather than our friends. Early on, we determined to build genuine friendships focused on caring for people, enjoying one another’s company, sharing interests, and working together for common goals.
- Let your actions do the talking.Gene Mims, co-pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, often says, “People will not trust you until they know they can trust you.” Trust cannot be assumed. It must be earned, and that takes time. It requires consistent, sacrificial, other-centered action. Political leaders, educators, business owners, and neighbors appreciate our encouragement, insight, and empathy, but they need our help. When we roll up our sleeves and show up to serve, we earn trust that builds a culture where the kingdom of God can advance.
- Let others set the agenda.On one occasion, Jesus asked a blind beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus immediately answered, “I want to see!” And Jesus gave him exactly what he wanted (Mark 10:51–52). Ask community leaders, “What do you want?” and then do everything you can to help them be successful. Our local school principal wants his school to excel, so that’s exactly what we want. We work beside him to mentor kids, to encourage teachers, and to fund necessary efforts. We commit time, money, and leadership resources to serve others, because success looks better on them than on us.