For the past three years, Port Royal Baptist Church has had the privilege of participating in a community-building event known as National Night Out. National Night Out is an initiative to develop and promote crime-prevention programs in neighborhoods involving watch groups, law enforcement agencies, churches, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals working toward one simple goal: safer and stronger communities. Our church has long had a burden for the multi-housing community that adjoins our campus and had been looking for ways to gain entry. In the years prior, we had not been allowed access to the property for a number of reasons. We approached the property manager with the National Night Out initiative and it allowed the crack in the door we had been praying about.
This is how it works. A church, business, or non-profit organization identifies a neighborhood to “adopt” and invites local law enforcement/fire safety agencies to join them. In our case, Port Royal Police Department, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department, and Beaufort County Fire Department will provide staff and resources from their departments to communicate their anti-crime and safety message. This initiative allows police and fire departments an opportunity to show the positive side of their work that many in the community never get to see. Our part is to host a block party (bounce house, popcorn, sno-cones, etc.) including a cookout. The property manager provides the space, power, and internal promotion to more than 100 family units. Through this initiative, foundational partnerships have been formed that have led to current ministry opportunities of ministry and involvement. On August 4th, 2015, we will all come together again to do our individual part in collectively making sure our community knows that we care about them.
Earlier I mentioned foundations for future involvement. From the church’s standpoint, we have had the privilege to go back into this neighborhood and minister in other ways. Because of a “non-church” event, we have been allowed to come back to host “church” events including those related to Easter, Vacation Bible School, Back Yard Bible Clubs, and Family Fun Days. We were able to match our burden for the community with the command to reach all people with the gospel because we built trust and earned the right to be involved in their lives. How did we do this? How can you do the same thing?
1. We took advantage of a secular event in order to lay the groundwork for ministry. Check your community calendars and involve your church in those events. I will be writing on the importance of merging church and community calendars this coming week. Check back for that.
2. We actually believe that our community is our responsibility, not someone else’s. Remember, missional is not about doing. It is all about being. Don’t allow someone else to be the missionary to your community.
3. We were not afraid to be told “no”. Neither should you. Pray, identify, and ask. We were told “no” in this particular multi-housing unit for years. Seasons change. Administrations change. Persistence pays off.