Catching fun with my daughters in their room first thing every morning, especially on weekends, is one of my most favorite things to do. I try to do this before their grandma whisks them away for bath. I walked into their room this Sunday and, as usual their attention shifted from a religious show they were watching with their grandma on television to daddy. The fun went on for about twenty minutes and then we took a customary break and turned our attention to the preacher on television, whom in an authoritative voice said “anytime you ask God for a miracle, He’ll ask you for a seed”. I adjusted my sitting position and started probing the factuality of this declaration. I must confess, it’s still a tough one for me to take into my intellect without first thinking it to be, one of many contentious assertions, which has found way to the pulpit and given the world a mistaken impression about the church in most communities.
Misunderstandings about the church of Jesus Christ arise from inability to introduce and communicate the reality of our beliefs to the community. This we do by building walls around ourselves and establishing what almost amounts to a cult in a community we are supposed to interrelate with. It is chief amongst many reasons why the mainstream media news tends to focus on stories and themes of a negative nature about the church even when the good many churches do does far outweighs the mistakes some have made.
Our mandate, as a church, is to be relevant and not religious.
While the media is busy selling mistaken impression about who we are, we might still find ourselves struggling with our community relations approach, as a church, if all we do is concentrate on tactical campaigns and making things look and sound good, instead of actually making them good by developing strategic values and palpable contributions the community can relate with and feel the love of Christ even without stepping into the church.
Fulfilling the Mandate
Fulfilling God given mandate of the church to the world starts from its outreach to people. The church members can strengthen this outreach immeasurably by establishing strong personal contacts with community and neighbors, and serving as munificent patrons of harmony. Also, Community relations for a church starts on the inside and from there moves to the outside. We need to look at value systems more than at campaigns.
Effective community relations was demonstrated by the entire membership of The House of Refuge International Church in Jimeta,Adamawa State, North Eastern Nigeria during their 10th year Anniversary celebration. In a time of religious tension, Christians and Muslims came out to celebrate the success of a bore hole comissioned by the church for members of the community amongst other projects. See pictures below.