“If your church disappeared tomorrow, would your community miss it?”
It’s a big question that church leaders love to ask when assessing a church’s mission and impact.
The expected answer for a healthy church is supposed to be “yes, our church has such a positive impact on our community that if we weren’t here we would be missed.”
It feels like a great question. I’ve used it a few times myself. But I’m backing off from it now because it has some serious flaws, all of which are unintentional.
- First, it presumes that if your church doesn’t have a noticable community-wide impact, something must be wrong.
- Second, by implying that, it places undue importance on bigger churches over smaller ones (bigger things get noticed more).
- Third, it places more emphasis on being noticed than on doing good work.
- Fourth, it leaves most churches feeling like failures.
Have An Impact Somewhere
It’s great for churches to have a noticable, positive, community-wide impact. But what about the overwhelming majority of healthy, mission-minded churches that don’t?
Is it possible for a church to be healthy and strong without the possibility of being missed by the community-at-large if we were gone?
I’m going to be counterintuitive here and say yes. It is possible to be a healthy church and not have a noticeable presence in your surrounding neighborhood.
This is especially true for smaller churches. And even more so for those in big cities where a lot of people drive by our buildings every day without seeing us. There’s so much else going on that almost no one can cut through the clutter and catch their attention.
Many churches wouldn’t be missed by the community at large if they disappeared tomorrow. But every church should be doing enough ministry in some corner of their community that the people in that corner would miss them if they were gone.
Make A Difference In Your Corner
No matter what size your church is, you can have an impact. The best way to do that is to find a niche – a small place where you can help meet an important need.
Once you find that place, step in with everything you’ve got.
For our church, one of those small, but very significant places is a shelter for abused women and children. If we were gone tomorrow, they would really notice it.
The vast majority of people in our very busy, heavily-populated community might not notice our absence. The church property would probably be sold off to the highest bidder, turned into condos, then nine out of ten people who drive by would ask themselves “what was there before?” and not be able to remember.
The community at large might forget our church quickly. But there are several corners where we have huge impact, and the people in those corners would miss us. A lot.
Those Who Would Miss You Are Your Mission Field
So instead of asking “if your church disappeared tomorrow, would your community miss it?”, we need to ask “if our church disappeared tomorrow, is there anyone who would miss us? And who are they?”
That’s what matters.
They are your mission field.
Those small, but significant corners are where to put your time, energy and passion.
Love and serve them in Jesus name. Make a difference in someone’s life.
And make sure they don’t ever have to miss you.