Sometimes reaching into your own community and discovering ways to help is often the hardest. People we see every day need to know the hope and healing power of Christ.
Helping Churches – Be On Mission
Baptists go on mission the world over. It’s what we do. It’s what we’re known for. We can be on mission locally and globally at the same time as we are on mission for Christ in our own community. Today, God is bringing people from around the world to our communities. Our Great Commission is to be on mission in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the rest of the world (Acts 1:8).
Churches are constantly challenged by the changing needs of their communities. Texas Baptists can see many opportunities to follow the biblical mandate to feed the hungry, provide water for the thirsty, to clothe the naked, and to seek justice while spreading God’s Word (Matthew 25). Our challenge is thinking beyond the walls of our churches to being on mission in our neighborhoods and communities bringing God’s Shalom for the church and the community.
Texas Baptists can look at their community’s specific needs and the church’s strengths. The church can develop a mission strategy and an action plan that is focused on transformation of the lives of people in need and in the lives of those who are serving.
Community Needs Assessment
The Community Needs Assessment is traditionally used effectively to develop strategic planning in most associations in Texas and is easy to use by congregations with little or no guidance. The BGCT, however, can offer assistance in training congregations and processing the findings for use in new ministry efforts.
Deaf and Special Needs Ministries
Every Sunday, people search for a church that will share the gospel in ways that only those who are deaf, blind or handicapped (developmentally disabled) can appreciate. Texas Baptists have 17 deaf congregations and hundreds of “hearing” congregations that provide interpreted services for the deaf. Deaf families have particular needs that your congregation can address, and interpreted services are just one example of how these needs are met. The BGCT also sponsors a Deaf Youth Camp while their pastors enjoy the Deaf Pastors’ Retreat. Each summer, the Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf gathers families from across the state for a time of fellowship, inspiration and ministry support. Then in the fall, interpreters gather for the Interpreter’s Training Retreat at Latham Springs Baptist Encampment.
Poverty Ministries of Relief and Empowerment
Poverty ministries may be as simple as establishing a benevolence ministry that may include a food pantry and clothes closet, or as complex as a mission center that serves as a “full service” center. Real help includes immediate relief as well as life and family empowerment. It is important to “give a man a fish,” but it is perhaps more important to “teach a man to fish”, and thus give a real sense of empowerment and fulfillment. Help ranges from simple “how to” pamphlets and ministry ideas to assistance in developing a holistic approach to meeting human needs is available to your church.