EPISODE #73 – ENGAGE YOUR COMMUNITY
Don’t let 2021 overwhelm you, stay with the basics, the irreducible minimums of ministry and take joy in leading your congregation and loving your people. The guys are back at it, discussing how you can excel at Engaging the Community. (also Jimbo shares a pretty incredible story right up front)
- To engage the community you have to love the community – to grow in your love for the community you have to be in the community
- Get involved and go to the civic events, parades, sports events etc
- Go to the coffee shops, diners, firehouses, feed stores-get out and be a part of the community
- Get to know the people right around your church.
- Engage your neighborhood, invite people over for time around the firepit
- Throw a neighborhood party
- Set up in a coffee shop-put out a sign letting people know you are willing to pray for them.
- Engage the community together as a small group or church
- Trunk or Treat at the Elementary School
- Serve a youth sports team
- Serve in the community as a church-get out and serve on others turf not your own
- Cast a strong vision for your church members to engage in whatever arena they are active in
- Serve a like minded organization
- Serve with your city by engaging with the city leaders.
The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathick and Dave Runyon
The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
Four Fold Panorama by Keelan Cook
[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at it again. Boot campers, Jimbo steward here with you. And as always, I got Bob Bickford there in the great city of St. Louis. Hey Bob, I want you to know my kids still talk about our trip to hang out with you guys in St. Louis.
Bob Bickford: The STL has got it going on. And, uh, what I would say is if it, if you’ve heard that it’s dangerous, it’s not as dangerous. As you’ve heard. And I think you experienced that, right? You didn’t, nobody got shot while you were with us.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, my, my threshold of what is dangerous is not a normal. Rush holder understanding. Let’s just be honest. Most of my ministry experience has been in communities that others have categorized as dangerous And they’ll say, Hey, is this like a safe place? And then like, in my mind, yes. I mean, I have only been shot at once. I have only. I’ve only been mugged [00:01:00] once. Those are two different incidents. I mean, so I, in my mind, I mean, I, in, in here in Jacksonville, I have only come across a dead body on my way into a diner one time.
Bob Bickford: Oh, my gosh. So wait, wait, hold time out. You’ve been shot at, you’ve been mugged and you walked past a dead person to go get something to eat.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: These are all stories I’ve never heard, but yet I am not surprised in the least
JimBo Stewart: The diner one is there. There’s a diner real close to redemption church, , called what’s cooking.
Bob Bickford: of course it is.
JimBo Stewart: and I’ll be honest. It was not very good. the food was not great. It was just convenient. It was right there next to the church. And so for a while there as a part of, a way to attempt organizational discipleship, like we talked about in the last episode, I started saying on Sunday mornings, [00:02:00] if you would like to meet with me and talk about the sermon more, I’ll be at what’s cooking across the street at 7:00 AM tomorrow morning, and I’d love to meet with you.
And for about two years, I did that every Monday, I would sit at what’s cooking. And for a while there, we had a great group coming. and we would talk about, the sermon and we’d talk about life and football and whatever else they want to talk about. Well, one morning I got there early and as I’m walking up there, there’s a guy right there by the door shot in the chest.
And he is it’s, it’s obvious. There’s been a minute he’s that he’s bled out. and so I walk inside, I kind of walk around him, I’ll walk inside and I look at the normal waitress named Sherry, and I said, Hey, Sherry, you guys know about the dead body on the sidewalk.
Huh? And they’re like, yeah, the cops are on their way. It was like, okay.
Bob Bickford: And then you sit down and you got something to eat. Oh my gosh.
[00:03:00] JimBo Stewart: Why would I not eat? I still gotta eat breakfast.
Bob Bickford: Geez. I have so many questions that I don’t know that we have time for, but I think the biggest one is did he get shot somewhere else and just basically stroll up there to, you know, go into glory in front of what’s cooking.
JimBo Stewart: I don’t. I don’t know. I have no, I don’t know what the story is. It was, uh, they said he was there when they got to work.
Bob Bickford: Man, you have an interesting life. Jimbo Stewart.
JimBo Stewart: when Audrey and I were getting engaged, I, I, in all sincerity said to her, Hey, before, who are you really fully give into this idea of marrying me? You just need to know, like I live in God’s sitcom. Like I’m, I’m part of his entertainment and things just happen around me.
To me, it adjacent to me. [00:04:00] And because you’re marrying me, you are now getting a starring role in said sitcom. And, uh, she’ll tell you all these years later that I was right and that for sure she lives in God’s sit-com now.
Bob Bickford: I love it. Does that make me Kramer?
JimBo Stewart: Yes. As a matter of fact, even the other day, I can’t say who, but I talking about someone that I know Audria said, this is turning into like a Neumann relationship with you.
Bob Bickford: Oh God.
JimBo Stewart: And I was like, you know, it is, it really is.
Bob Bickford: Hate Newman, Newman.
JimBo Stewart: All right. Well, today we are talking about community. We’re talking about engaging our community. We’ve been talking about the irreducible minimums of what does it mean to just get down to the bare necessities because. Life is overwhelming 20, 20 and 2021. Our twin [00:05:00] troubles of overwhelming. It’s just like insane.
We all thought 2020 was going to be bad. And then six days into 2021, we got a guy in a bear costume in the capital. Say it. Hey, 2020, hold my beer. And it’s just gotten worse ever since. So in all of that, it can get so overwhelming that you don’t know what to do. And so what do you do? Well, the whole purpose of this series is for us to talk about what are the fundamentals, what are the irreducible minimums of pastoral ministry that just focus on doing these things in your context.
And that’s it. You don’t have to get overwhelmed with everything else, focus on these things. So as a part of that, one of them we’ve talked about is engaging the community. Now as you process through each of these, as we’ve told you each week, we’re doing it through the air force leadership model of Peto, personal interpersonal team and organizational.
Uh, and [00:06:00] so we’re just trying to think through, and essentially concentric circles, right. And in your concentric circles, starting with you and going out to the church, what does it look like to lead in this irreducible minimum? So, Bob kick us off with personal. What does it mean to lead yourself?
Personally me, myself and I to engage the community.
Bob Bickford: I mean, I, first of all, I think you really got to, you have to love your community or develop a love for your community, right? If you are in a place where, you know, you don’t like the people, you don’t like the setting, that that’s a problem. And part of what develops a love for the community is being present in the community.
Right? You learn to love it. So quick story. When we moved to, uh, Webster groves, Missouri. Um, our children were raised in the land of suburbs prior to this. So every house, every suburb we lived in when our kids were younger. And then as they got older, [00:07:00] every third or fourth house looked the same, it had to have a different paint color, et cetera.
So it was all uniform. And, and so they got used to that. Well, we roll up here and none of the houses are very few of the houses look similar. They’re all different. And. They all look old, but they are old are a hundred, our houses, a hundred and probably 10 years old at this point. And, um, And so our kids walked into this old house and it needed a lot of work and need to be redone and everything.
And they looked at us like, you all are crazy. Like, why would we move here? Why, why would we want to live here? This makes no sense. But they were, they weren’t familiar with the community. They didn’t know the community. They didn’t. They hadn’t engaged in the community, but as we committed and moved in to jumped in and we went to ballgames and 4th of July parades and all of those sorts of things, we really began to learn, to love the community and love the people here.
Uh, and because we got to know them, right? So part of it engaging the community is you just got to get out in the community [00:08:00] and you gotta be part of it. And fortunately, we had some persons of peace who were individuals who helped us navigate the community and become part of the community early on. So I would say, look for that, like the reality is in our small city of Webster groves, unless you were born here and your parents owned a house here, you are not from here. And so it’s hard to break in, in that regard to be seen as an insider, but. We’ve been here for 10 years now. And we are part of the community because we got involved in school. The school activities went to the ball games, et cetera, went to the community events and we just fell in love with it. So what I would say is if we have some re planters that are struggling, they feel like they get to know me, go to every little town thing that you can go to and find a place where the old guys are drinking coffee and just hang out and get to know ’em go to the same restaurants.
Find the same servers, just engage.
JimBo Stewart: That’s [00:09:00] such a great plan, such a great point, because gone are the days of 50, 60 years ago, where if you just planted a church and built a nice looking building that looked like a church and sat in your office from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day. Then you are, you you’re, you’re done, you engage the community.
The very fact that the building was there meant that it was the social hub of that neighborhood and people would flock to it. Right. They that’s where they went for their social outing because there wasn’t really that many other options in that. So it became the town center for each little neighborhood and we’re having to see a shift in what pastoral ministry looks like.
And I’m to the point, Bob, I don’t think it would be responsible or biblical for you to go sit in your office for eight hours every day, five days a week. I don’t think you’re pastoring. If that’s what you’re doing, right. You, there will be pastoral moments that happen in your office. Certainly. But you need to get out and be a [00:10:00] part of the community.
You need to engage with some people, call it third places. We talked about that a little bit. In episode, we had with Keelan cook, uh, talking about the fourfold Panorama, but essentially that idea is just go out and engage your community. That obviously is going to look very different contextually depending on where you are.
Right. And so for some places, uh, I was talking with a friend of mine who is a. Church planter was an organization that requires certain evaluation forms. And one of the, and he’s in a very, very rural area and he’s bi-vocational. And so they said, uh, Hey, what is a third places? What are some third places that you’re engaging?
And he said after Googling third place to try to figure out what that meant. Uh, he then thought the only way third place in our community is the volunteer fire department. Right.
Like, he’s not there. I mean, there’s not, there’s not a coffee shop. There’s not a restaurant. There’s not a, there’s not a place in his [00:11:00] community.
Well, what does that mean? That means they have little league. Right. And they’ve got other things. So that’s what he does. Right. He coaches a little league team. Well, this kid on it, and he finds other ways to be a part of the community. You’ve got to love where you are, like you said, and be a part of it.
You cannot be an outsider and you cannot just sit there. You can’t just be an outsider. You got to intentionally work your way. In to being a part of the community, even if you’re brand new, that’s fine. You can, you can learn and you can be a part of it and figure out ways to do that, to get in there. So then moving from personal to interpersonal, what does that look like?
Interpersonally, obviously being a part of the community is an interpersonal process, but it’s, it’s you deciding how you live your life? What are your hobbies? What are your things that you’re doing? What does it mean? Intends to be intentionally interpersonal and engaging the community?
Bob Bickford: Well right around your church, right around your house. They’re neighbors, they’re people that live by. So [00:12:00] that’s your first group I would think is to, to get to know your neighbors. And so, you know, that was one of the things that. Was really exciting for us is our city is a front porch and sidewalk community.
We used to live in. If you ever seen this show King of the Hill. Um, so King of the Hill was written about a fictitious town named Arlen, and it was, uh, built off of Richardson, Texas, or Garland, Texas. And we lived in Garland, Texas. Every home in our subdivision had a rear entry garage. And so. You drove down a back alley, you went into the garage and you closed it and then you really didn’t get out.
And if you had a, a postage stamp yard, which we did like a backyard, you still have like an eight and a half foot high privacy fence. So people really didn’t connect in that neighborhood. Just the opposite here. Like people, people are walking, people are getting out and so they’re connecting. And so you get to know people and it’s fun.
People like to know their neighbors. We have streets that shut down for Halloween [00:13:00] and have big Halloween parties, like on their block, et cetera. So get to know the folks around me know by first name, no word know about their kids, know where they go. And, and so, um, that was new for us and we really enjoyed that and, and loved that.
And so I think that’s one of the best ways to. So you get to know people in their community, start with your neighbors.
JimBo Stewart: Part of that. I realized I talked about there places and didn’t define that part of that is when you go to third place, getting know the people there. So what is the third place where your home was your first place? Your work is your second place. Where’s that you go to, to socialize, to hang out? Is that a coffee shop?
Is that the volunteer fire department is that Peewee club. Is that the barbershop? What is that? But don’t just go there. You got to go there and start to build relationships and get to know, uh, The people that work there, the regulars that are there have conversation with them. Um, I was talking with somebody yesterday who said, uh, when he goes to a coffee shop, he takes a copy of Jared Wilson’s the gospel, according to [00:14:00] Satan, and just sets it out there so that people see it and see if it did start conversations with people.
Cause it’s such a provocative title. I thought, you know, that’s a fun way. I have. I’ve literally at times I’ve, I’ve printed out a, my piece of paper then folded it. So it was like a little like, you know, placard sign that just said, how can I pray for you? And I would go study for my sermon and just set that in front of my computer.
And, uh, and then just sit there and study and people would come by and they would sit down and say, Hey man, thanks for doing this. I actually have something I need prayer about. Or, uh, or sometimes people would want to come and debate things and I would not debate them. I would just. Engage them with the gospel, but, um, you know, just get creative man figure out ways to, to be a part of the community personally, on your own life.
Whether you’re here’s, what I’d say is, you know, I’ve recently transitioned out of being a lead [00:15:00] pastor at a church. Well, that doesn’t mean any of that has changed for me. I still teach it. I still lead a teacher Bible study every Tuesday morning at the local middle school. I still am a regular at the same coffee shops in the same restaurants and building relationships with the regulars and the workers there.
Uh, these are things that don’t require you to be a pastor. You’re really just leading by example. What you hope the rest of your church will do, uh, and you want to teach them to do so moving from interpersonal to team, what does it look like then? Other than, so I think step one would be encourage lead by example, and then encourage your leadership to be engaged in community.
And then kind of that same way on a personal level. What’s another way team. And maybe there’s a dotted line here that kind of oversight over lines again with organizational Bob, how do we, how do we lead our team to engage the community missionally?
Bob Bickford: Well, I think you, you can do it together, um, and engage the community gather. So, uh, one practical way that we [00:16:00] did, uh, and have done as our church, there’s an elementary school next door to us, and they have an annual trunk or treat, uh, Deal and basically trunk or treat for those who don’t know, you set up a kind of a, some kind of decorated thing in this, in the back of your car or SUV, and you give out candy at an event.
And that’s one of the ways that you can kind of get, uh, a group of kids and parents contained in a particular space. And, uh, and so we we’ve done that a couple of times as a church. And we invite all our church members to come and meet people and we play games and that sort of thing. So what you’re doing is you’re showing them how to have conversations with you, how to interact with people.
And it’s it’s. Some people are, are afraid to do that with strangers. They just don’t know them. And they don’t know how to engage with people. So as a team, you say, Hey guys, we’re going to engage the community. Here’s how we’re going to do it. And here we go. One of the best ways I think, cause that that is a short term engagement, but let’s say if you have a kids, small [00:17:00] kids and you do this Jambo and your church members can do this.
If you kids play soccer, then you guys all play in the same soccer league or you, you. Played flag football. Then you get in the same football league and you engage the families that are there and you connect with them. There. That’s one way to do it. If you want to serve at the, you know, youth center or the library or something like that, you just help your people engage the community and you help them do it together.
Right. So volunteer together, serve together, coach together, that sort of thing.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think, um, that’s such a key thing of just, just figuring out how to encourage people to do that together and be a part of the community, figuring out how to understand the community. And so this one kinda, really kind of goes further into organizationally, as we said, with, uh, the fourfold Panorama that we’ve talked about with Keelan cook, that helps you really understand, uh, your church.
And it’s context and how those things relate together. [00:18:00] And then there’s another tool called kingdom concept that kind of takes that a step further, um, that, uh, by wheel man, see me, that can be really helpful as well. what are some other things that you can think about? Uh, organizationally, that would be how we lead our churches to engage the community.
Bob Bickford: Well, I think that, one of the things you mentioned, that’s a challenge for us in terms of COVID and then also in culture. So the COVID reality is, Presents an, uh, challenge for us to engage in our setting. Right? So, a lot of our, our approach to ministry has always been a place-based approach where it’s come and see, come in here, you, we invite non-Christians to, to the church facilities of the campus in order to do ministry to them.
And you really have to flip that on its head because we, large groups in our setting are really not, uh, something that people are comfortable with. And that they, they just wrestle with. So we had to think, how do [00:19:00] we send our people out into the community to engage the community as Christians, as Christ followers.
So one of the things, casting vision for it in multiple ways. so we talk about how, how do you interact with your neighbors? how do you interact with your school system? How do you interact with the clubs that you’re in, et cetera? How do you serve the community? how do you build relationships with them to, to get, An opportunity to speak one things is, is, are there particular needs that your church can meet in the community?
We have a food pantry for, college kids and we partner with a local ministry, uh, inner varsity. It’s a, well, it’s a national collegiate ministry in varsity. And so our people bring food and we give food to that, that pantry. So when kids, uh, at the college, when the. When the, the, the cafeteria closes or when you get a kid that runs out of money at the end of the month and then food, then our church is there to provide that.
We’ve also done some dinners for kids and stuff like that. So, we also have the soccer team that meets in the back of our, [00:20:00] they, they practice in our field. And so we’ve encouraged our parents to get involved in that soccer, soccer club and coach and participate. So casting vision for that and giving practices, call examples.
And then one of the things that I do. In my own Obama in the city, as I get involved with our city council and in our community regarding issues that concern the community and part of the way that I lead our church as a, as a body, as an organization is I just talked about that from time to time when it’s appropriate and cast a vision for it.
And just say, this is a natural part of what we do and who we are, right. That is called us to live in the city and make it a better, better place. And, and so we, we want to do that as much as we can.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. We make disciples that make disciples that make the community noticeably better. Right. So, Coming towards the end of this episode, Bob, what would be a resource or two, if you were to encourage the bootcampers, if they wanted to engage this idea a little bit further, uh, what is a resource or two?
You would [00:21:00] point maybe their way.
Bob Bickford: Oh, gosh, there’s a boat that I forget what it’s called. Oh, the art of neighboring. yeah, it’s a great book. we, we had a small group that went through that, and I encourage the art of neighboring. it would probably be at the top of my list in terms of just thinking through how, how do I, how do I engage people in community and around me,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think that, I think the fourfold Panorama that we’ve talked about, the kingdom concept, Gospel. If we talked in the last episode about gospel centered life by Robert gospel centered community, uh, is a good one. Uh, the art of neighboring, if you’re dealing with, uh, poverty issues then, uh, helping without hurting, uh, or when helping hurts, um, is a great resource as well.
Bob Bickford: Here’s one till when I mentioned, um, Rosaria Butterfield, the gospel comes with a house. Key is a really good one, too, that talks about neighbors and particularly people in your community that you would not normally have a relationship with. [00:22:00] And, uh, and so I would recommend that. Okay.
JimBo Stewart: Excellent. Well, Hey, uh, bootcampers what are some resources you would recommend? Let us know, uh, get in touch with us on social media or through our website. Let us know the things you want to talk about. There’s another questions that you have when we go on the other side of these irreducible minerals, we would love to have you as a guest on here and work through questions that you’re asking or here at lessons that you’re learning in the meantime, stay safe, stay sanitized, and get out there and make much of Jesus.