The Church as Good Neighbor
There has been a lot of discussion going on about whether religion should be part of public life. This kind of theoretical discussion can be thrown around on national television shows. But anyone who lives in a community in any town in this country knows that the church is as vital a part of any community as the town hall, the library or the local swimming pool. Whether you have religious convictions or not, the role of the church in community life is impossible to ignore. Most churches have as part of their core reason for being that they will reach out to the community in a wide variety of ways to help the needy and provide comfort to those in need of help in the community in which they reside. Since this country was founded, the church has been a gathering place where important public factions take place.
Just take a walk around Boston where the nation was born and you will notice that many of the important public landmarks that were part of the start of this country were churches. To a church, participating in community service is just as natural as a policeman helping a lost child get home. It just is part of who they are what they do. If you have a community service project in mind, it is never a bad place to start to go to the church and meet with their administrative board. The church knows that if you improve the community, you make people feel more part of the lives of others.
And people who want to be involved in the lives of others get out and go to church. So it just makes good sense for your local church, temple or synagogue to be a vital part of any community service project that can make your town a better place to live. It is important to understand the role the church can play in any community service project in town. The church is probably not the place to go to get massive funding for a huge public works project. But don’t count the church out as a funding resource because within the church there may be many influential and wealthy citizens who might be ready to kick in their fair share to make the town a better place to live. The church, if it is a vital and living religious body, has at its disposal a strong community of enthusiastic members and the ability to mobilize those members to get out and make a difference in the community. The pastor or priest of the local church has the pulse of his or her congregation and he or she knows how to get them moving on an exciting project and, by the way, how to turn them against one just as fast. So when you go to the local church to discuss that community service project, think of what means the most to that religious institution. They are not motivated by property values, marketing statistics or traffic the project might generate. A church is interested in the people who might be touched and if the project gives them the ability to make a positive impact on the community.
That kind of influence will help people feel open to coming to church again and that is what makes churches grow. So we should look at churches as places that have a tremendous value to any community service project we might need to get started. As people motivators, they cannot be beat. Church members are joiners and doers and they as a rule can be trusted with money, equipment and responsibility. Churches have small communities such as the youth group, the ladies circle or the men’s fellowship that by themselves can take on a community service project and make it a success. So if you have plans to start a project that is going to make a positive mark on your community, remember a church can always be counted on to be a good neighbor. PPPPP 679 .
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