An increasingly essential truth for the 21st Century Church is that growing congregations are connected to their communities. It looks like this:
- The high school principal calls the local pastor asking for help with several families with LGBTQ students because the families are concerned about bullying. The church introduces a First Friday of the Month gathering of LGBTQ families and those interested in supporting them.
- The Town Council has noticed a huge need for a growing homeless population. They ask for a meeting of all local faith leaders about working together to provide food and shelter support. The faith-based community opens a Room at the Inn or similar program.
- The School Board is spending more and more time discussing the disparities between students with access to computers and students without access. The faith-based communities, a local bank, and a local department store partner together to provide digital access at the homes of all students on free or reduced lunch.
Obviously, these things will never happen if faith based leaders, school leaders, business leaders, and other non-profit leaders don’t know each other.
One of the cool things I am doing right now is preparing – with seven other Charlotte people (non-profit leaders and government leaders) to gather in Chicago in March for training with the Divided Communities Project. We are planning in advance for possible unrest in our city in future months.
This is not in any way to cast aspersions on that or any other event. It is to say – however – that recent gatherings of a political nature throughout the country and world have experienced unrest and we are hoping to be prepared in a positive way.
In the meantime, the eight of us have been meeting for conversation in hopes of building relationships with each other so that we can become a team that will bring back tools for expanding this effort. Bridging divides is good.
As we all know, our country is divided. Our world is divided. Nationalism – specifically – is divisive in a way that crosses over into a variety of issues from white supremacy and systemic racism to poverty and health care disparity.
I am excited that my corner of The Church will be partnering with some extraordinary Charlotte leaders in my former city. It’s very cool.
What cool things are you working on these days? Please tell me you are having coffee with the sheriff or lunch with the mayor to talk about ways to partner for the sake of the community.
Image from The Divided Community Project based at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. But we’ll be meeting in Chicago March 1-3, 2020 (because Chicago might be more fun than Columbus.)