By Michael Brown
Externally focused churches ask, “If our church were not here, would we be missed in the community?”
I’ve taken this to a personal level and asked myself, “If I were to leave the community today, would anyone notice?” The question helps me realize how many actual relationships I do or do not have outside of the church.
It’s easy for ministers and other church leaders to get caught up in lesson writing, counseling, strategic planning, and other “church work,” only to miss what is going on in the lives of people around us. Three key elements have provided me a bridge into the lives of people outside my local church. Maybe my experience will help you see how you could build relationships with those outside your “walls.”
Every Thursday a group of men play soccer a block from church on their lunch break. A former soccer player myself, I was glad to learn about their games and gladly began playing with them every week. We then formed an indoor soccer team to play every Thursday during the winter.
There’s nothing dramatic in all of this. I made some friends. We play soccer. But playing soccer has led to breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, and building relationships with lost people.
When I moved to Broomfield I began receiving e-mails from a lady I did not know. I ignored them at first, but Cindy was very persistent. When I finally listened to her I realized that there is something called Jesus Pizza every Wednesday. The local youth ministries get together and serve pizza to 400 plus high school students every week.
Broomfield has an open extended lunch on Wednesday, which gives us a solid 45 minutes to spend with students weekly. Volunteers run the ministry while we spend time getting to know students. In the past year I have stepped into the role of leading this network, and it has been a blessing. We get together and serve side-by-side in an effort to help lost teenagers meet Jesus.
My favorite part of the week is my Total Athlete group. Every Monday during wrestling season I have the privilege to meet with the Broomfield High School wrestling team after practice and offer leadership development from a biblical perspective. I teach them the five exemplary practices of leadership from James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book The Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass):
1. Model the Way
2. Inspire a Shared Vision
3. Challenge the Process
4. Enable Others to Act
5. Encourage the Heart
Total Athlete has been a great way to meet coaches, school administrators, and unchurched students. Most of these guys never go to church and do not get much exposure to who Jesus is. Total Athlete provides a way to share Jesus’ leadership with them.
Michael Brown is founder of Insight Leadership Ministries and student pastor with the Christian Church of Broomfield in Broomfield, Colorado. For more information on how to start Jesus Pizza or Total Athlete, click on Resources at www.insightlm.org.