Working in a church can be time-consuming.
Working in a church is time-consuming.
Between meetings, events, counseling sessions, retreats, and more, it can quickly feel like one’s entire life is being lived inside the walls of the church building or that every moment is confined to the congregational calendar. After all, you work there. You prepare lessons there. You build relationships there. And, for those who work in a ministry setting, the church is not just a place of employment—it is your congregation as well.
Make no mistake: I am not saying that these are bad things. Working in a congregation, even with its busy schedule, is an amazing joy and privilege. But it is also important to recognize the reality that congregational life is busy. And when we fail to move beyond our connection to and in this one place, it can become unhealthy, one-dimensional, and even co-dependent.
It is important to find ways to connect in your community beyond the congregation. There are many benefits to building these connections. First, you will gain an increased understanding of your setting. Ministry does not happen in a vacuum; it is important to understand the things that are happening in your community, as they will impact what happens in your ministry. Additionally, you will meet new people. Expanding your circle beyond congregation members matters in many ways. Finally, your newly acquired understanding and connections will build trust with community members and organizations, ultimately opening the door for further ministry.
So where do you begin? If you are looking to get connected in the community on a personal level, there are a number of places to start. Take a class through a local community college. Join a gym, or sign up to play in a recreational sports league. Get involved in a club. Find a place to volunteer or serve. If you’re looking for an even simpler way to begin, work outside of your office in a place such as the local coffee shop.
You can also begin making professional connections in your community. Stop by and talk with people working at local schools, hospitals, police and fire departments to see how you can help serve them and fill needs in your community. Talk with leaders of local community organizations and events. If you are unsure where to begin, ask your members! These professional connections will spark new ideas for ministering to your community. They will help you better understand the context and climate in which you are serving. They may also open doors for building relationships and connections on a personal level—which is, again, a benefit to your ministry!
Connecting in your community is vital to your life as a church worker. Begin planning, despite the busyness that sometimes accompanies working in a church, to make connections beyond the doors of your congregation. Start small. It may be uncomfortable, but your presence in the community matters. Recognize that genuine connections take time, but they matter deeply—not just for you but for your community.
Continue the Conversation: How will you begin intentionally building connections in your community in the coming days and weeks? Leave a comment to continue the conversation!
(This article was originally posted by Concordia Publishing House on March 8, 2017.)