As people outside our church realized we were really interested in the community, they opened up to us, and viewed us in a different light. An elementary school teacher has visited our church several times. She is involved in the music program and told me recently, "You know, attending your church isn't as bad as I thought it would be."
We laughed at her comment, but both of us understood what she meant: folks were seeing our church with new eyes. We were building bridges.
Fourth, we learned that when you partner with others, you give up some control. You collaborate. We collaborated with teachers, local politicians, business leaders, and artists as equal partners.
A media representative said to me one day, "It's good to see a church involved with real life." An African-American pastor expressed it this way: "Before," she said, "there were us things and them things. This is the first time we have worked together on our thing."
Finally, we had to drop our hidden agendas. We weren't doing good in our community only to get people to join our church. True, our worship attendance is up about 20 percent. New members have joined, and we have first-time visitors almost every Sunday. Not all are a result of our partnerships, but some come because they have seen what we are doing.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Learning to Partner
One of the adaptive challenges we are recognizing in the PMC project is getting to know and serve our community. This excerpt from a Leadership Journal article offers some insight into some of the learnings of a small historic church in Virginia...