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Relating to the Community
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Less than one in four Adventist pastors and first elders report that the community around their local church is well-informed about church ministries. More than a third say this is only slightly or not at all true of their church. This information comes from research done as part of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey.

When Center for Creative Ministry consultants discuss this issue with pastors, they are told that even these data are considered to be much too optimistic. Why are Adventist churches usually so invisible in their local communities? A number of reasons provide explanations in various cases:

bullet Most key lay leaders do not live in the community where the church is located
bullet Community relations is not a priority in the church budget, at church
bullet board meetings, or in the allocation of human resources
bullet Some congregations lack the skills necessary to run an effective community relations program
bullet The average American has far more information coming to his or her mailbox, eyes, and ears than can possibly be consumed and churches cannot easily break through the communication clutter

At the same time, the research published in the book "Adventist Communities Today" shows that strong community involvement is key to church growth. This is a leadership challenge that calls for you as pastor to bring together the bright minds in each of your congregations to address it. Please know that our prayers will be with you as you give priority attention to communicating effectively with your community.

Discussion Questions:

1. On a scale of one to five (1=good, 5=bad), how well would you rate our local church's relationship with the community? Is the community around our church well-informed about our activities?

2. What are some of the barriers that keep our information from flowing to our neighbors?

3. What regular communication do we send to our neighbors? Evaluate each one for its effectiveness--content, design, pictures, circulation frequency, relevance to the community, etc.

4. What more could we do to help our neighbors become better informed about our church and its ministries? Please be specific about with your responses--suggest detailed plans and deadlines.

New FACT Information, Center for Creative Ministry