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April 18, 2017 Make Community Outreach Visible to the Community Posted In: Design

Royal Oak 1st United Methodist Church

Royal Oak First United Methodist Church

Make Community Outreach Visible to the Community

Community outreach takes many forms. Some can be more obvious within a community than others. Successful outreach efforts respond to the question, “What does our community need?”

As church architects, we believe buildings are key outreach tools. We ask, “What type of environment can be created to best support the church’s outreach plans to serve their community?”

Today church activities extend beyond Sunday morning services. They require environments that “speak the language of the people they are trying to reach,” according to Houston Clark, a church consultant in Dallas, Texas.

In a New York Times article about emerging trends churches are using to reach people, Scott L. Thumma, professor at the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, noted “blending religion with everyday activities disarms people put off by traditional notions of church.”

Years ago there was a shift in youth programs to use activities to attract unreached youth outside the church family, such as sports activities, concerts with popular musical groups, cool hangout spaces with video games, and trendy coffee houses.

Today’s growing churches are adjusting their model to advance their mission. They are using new venues to overcome the perception of exclusivity perpetuated over the years to develop new relationships in a safe, non-threatening environment. All churches should be looking outside their four walls to understand the unique needs of their community and provide ways to meet them.

The challenge is to stay ahead of the curve of our constantly changing culture. This can only happen if church leadership is willing to examine their model and make the necessary adjustments.

Consultant Houston Clark hopes the church can honestly say, “The community we’re trying to reach values the things we’re doing,” instead of, “This is what we’re doing and we’re inviting the community to be part of it.”

Are there new venues and opportunities for your church to reach the unreached people in your community? If so, this may be a chance to create and fine-tune your building facility as a missional tool to serve the community.

This post concludes the five-part series “Revitalize & Transform the Church on Main.”
To access previous posts, visit:

Revitalize and Transform the Church on Main
This Isn’t my Grandfather’s Church!
Where’s the Front Door?
Preserve the Legacy, Respect the Details

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