Archives for posts with tag: community

As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking for a job in Boston. This is been a really long process and I have applied to literally hundreds of places. I have read countless job descriptions and requirement lists. For some reason, one that I looked at last week was the only one to stir up a desire to blog about.

In Boston there is a community on the south side of the city called Roxbury. Roxbury carries with it a reputation for being, well… frightening. When you ask anyone what neighborhoods you should avoid, Roxbury is always at the top of the list. I have never actually been to Roxbury so I can not comment personally about the community. I just know what I have heard.

I found a job running communications and social media for a group whose aim is the put down the “racist stereotypes” of the community of Roxbury and highlight the great historical and arts features of the community. That sounds great! I am all about putting down racism and promoting arts. Where do I sign up? I began writing a well-tailored cover letter for the position and checked back at the description page so that I could use particular phrasing to make myself sound perfect for the job. Then I noticed something…

Though the job requested that you have a B.A. And 2 years of experience with PR and social media it only paid $18,000 a year. You can’t even begin to live on that in Boston.

So, a job whose goal is to help show people that Roxbury is not an impoverished haven of crime is not willing to pay someone a living wage to do that job. If I took that job I would also have to sell drugs or rob convenience stores to provide for my family.

I know that the group probably can’t afford to pay more than that. I understand that. However, if you want someone to have a degree and experience, you have to start out by showing a little more employee value.

I have 2 points to make here…

1. Pay your employees well. Don’t hire people if you can’t pay them a living wage. If they have to divide their attention between your job and another job they can’t give you as much devotion as you would need them to.

2. If you want to create a certain image for your organization (non-profit, church, community, etc) don’t directly violate that image with the salary that you offer employees.

I just want to note that I have no intention of defaming the community of Roxbury. It isn’t their fault that this oversight was made. I have already been planning a trip down there to check out the community.

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If your church isn’t on Twitter you don’t need to use Twitter to engage your congregation.

If a majority of your church doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, you probably don’t want to spend too much time making sure that your pastors are blogging.

If most of your church likes good old fashioned traditional church music, you don’t need a contemporary service.

With that said…

If your church is highly saturated with smart phone users you probably don’t need to send out a paper copy of your newsletter.

If your church members participate in a monthly bloggers meet up you should probably make sure that at least one of your pastors is involved in that group.

If your church’s facebook page has as many fans as you have attendees on Sunday mornings, you should be using your facebook page as a tool to communicate.

Let’s be real for a second.

The whole “relevant” thing is played out. The idea of being relevant to your culture began as a way to get Christians to stop isolating themselves from the rest of the world. But just like every good thing that gets mass-produced and corporatized, the push for Christian relevancy has come around full circle and started eating itself.

Look at Relevant Magazine. I have no beef with them. They talk about some really cool music and have quality cultural observations. But pay attention to the advertisements. Every single ad in Relevant has something to do with Christian culture. The ads are for Christian musicians, Bible colleges, Christian conferences, and Christian books.

The people willing to put their money into Relevant Magazine are Christians. If the church was actually being relevant to culture, we would see a much bigger representation of culture in our church. If Relevant Magazine was actually relevant to non-Christians, non-Christians would be putting their money into advertising in the magazine.

“Relevant” churches are doing the same thing as the magazine. We listen to preachers that use relevancy buzz words like “authenticity”. Our worship teams play music from bands who smoke, have tattoos, and use delay pedals. We decorate our churches like all of the other churches do (would a deep crimson or a hunter green look better as an accent wall in this chocolate brown room?) We have come around full circle and become a brand new, cookie cutter church culture that is just as irrelevant as it has always been.

So, what is my solution? We stop trying to be what we aren’t. We stop buying into the myth that if we serve expensive coffee and have vintage Fender guitar amps that we will make a difference in the culture around us. There is no universal formula for engaging your community.

Our focus should not be on being relevant to an irrelevant church society. Our focus should be on channeling the creativity that God has given us into engaging our culture.

This looks different in your church than it does mine. You are a much better judge of what your community looks like than I am. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to other churches. Don’t listen to the conferences. Listen to your people.

One of the pastors at my church was recently diagnosed with cancer. On the Sunday that he announced his diagnosis to the church, he preached a sermon about using the difficult things in your life for good.

How are you capitalizing on your problems for the sake of the Kingdom of God?

There are incredible counseling opportunities for Christians who have gone through difficult times.  Other people are going through the same thing you are. There are probably other people in your church who are:

Divorced, Sick, Dying, Going through a financial crisis, Dealing with dysfunctional families, Trying to be healthier, Stressed out, Failing at being good parents, Worried that their friend/family member is away at war, Trying to get off drugs, Trying to get over a porn addiction, Trying to stop drinking, etc, etc, etc….

There is a place for you to use your situation for the glory of God. Talk to your pastor (or another pastor) about ways to do that.

I’ve heard it a million times…

“Our church needs to reach more ___ people”

The blank could be filled with the adjectives “young”, “poor”, “not-white”, or any other variety of socio-economic identifiers.

Here’s the problem that I see most often: You want to reach (young, old, poor, black, gay, sick, addicted) people, but you are unwilling to change the way you do business. There are certain elements of certain churches that indentify differently to certain people. If your church is only attracting middle-class white people it isn’t because poor minorities don’t know how awesome your church is. It is because poor minorities are looking for something different in a church.

There are a few solutions:

  1.  Change everything about your church. Change your pastor to make him/her more relatable to the demographic. Change your music to be more relevant to different types of people. Change your church’s location to be in the middle a community that you want to reach (poor people from the inner city will not drive 30 minutes to the suburbs to go to church).
  2.  Give up trying to reach people who are different than your church’s demographic. Decide to focus on areas that you are strong.
  3. Go into the community and serve people and minister to them where they already are… don’t expect them to come to you.

I’m just going to throw this out there… option 3 is probably the way to go.

The strongest relationships that I have are with people that I have gone through something horrible with. Don’t look at difficult situations as another drain on your already stressful life. Look at them as an opportunity for growth and change. Look at them as an opportunity to labor next to other people. Look at them as an opportunity build lasting relationships.

The whole Christians using profanity debate has always surprised me. I’ve never really understood why some people get so bent out of shape on either side of the coin. First of all, I don’t think that getting upset about someone cursing is a worthwhile use of time. We are called to know nothing but “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. I don’t think that cursing falls under that umbrella.

At the same time it equally annoys me when people curse to make a point. Unfortunately this is often the path that Christians take. I have honestly heard people say that they curse because “people get so hung up on stupid things like cursing that they miss the point of the Gospel.” That makes sense and all, but to me I see it in a different light. In my opinion that person who is cursing is so caught up on the fact that other people hate cursing that they are over-correcting and just being awkward.

Honestly, that’s what it comes down to for me. Christians cursing is usually just awkward. It’s like a 12-year-old who learns a handful of dirty words at school. He knows that some people around him will be shocked and offended by the words so he slips them in every now and then to get a reaction. I see grown men do that all the time.

Anyway, I recently read a blog post from Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary about the reactions that she gets to the fact that she curses from time to time in her blog posts. I though it was an interesting read. Check it out!