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One of the books on my holiday reading list was entitled, PASTORPRENEUR - creative ideas for birthing spiritual life in your community by John Jackson.

Once I’d filtered some of the American context – large congregations, large budgets, large cities – I did find some useful principles for ministry here in Wales. It’s often been said that the nation of Wales has lacked the entrepreneurial spirit, and that the Christian church across Wales has been equally lacking.

Pastorpreneur encourages strategic and bold thinking in 5 key areas to connect more powerfully and fruitfully with the community around the church. So here they are, with some points to ponder added by me.

1. GRAB THE COMMUNITY’S ATTENTION

This is a call to move away from the priorities of maintaining a church, and actually begin to connect positively with people, networks, agencies, in the local community.

One of the most powerful ways of doing so, is to serve the needs of the local community – either in an area of need that isn’t currently being met, or alongside other community groups that are already serving a need. This is how a number of churches across Wales have found significant community impact through things such as Foodbank, CAP, Homeless projects for example.

In short – find a way that says to your local community ‘we are a church, we are here, we are part of you, and we care’.

2. BUILD STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

When local churches take steps into their community, more often than not they find it not as ‘enemy territory’ but as a ‘land of opportunity’. For your church in a small Welsh town or rural setting it simply might be ONE strategic partnership with a community agency or group that begins to get you credibility, connection, and impact into the community – when the church can really begin to be salt and light. Is your building an available and attractive resource for the local town or village for example?

Are there resources, connections, potential relationships with influential groups, leaders, individuals in your community that you should cultivate?

3. CONDUCT BIG FAITH-BUILDING EVENTS

Now of course, BIG in a large city in the USA and BIG in mid-Wales are two different things! But the principle still applies. The basic premise is this – that nothing builds the faith of your people like seeing their unchurched friends and family come to well-run and excellent events run by their church. When your whole church puts time, effort and prayer into a community event, and sees people come to it, the impact is very important. It also begins to earn you the right to invite people to something more evangelistic at a later date. A church in a small village in Wales has run a free community fun day for the last 3 years and has seen over 300 attend each year. As a result, the church has been able to launch an Alpha church in the function room of the local pub.

Where is the gap in your community’s calendar for your church to step in and organise a great community event?

4. CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO FIND THEIR NICHE

Perhaps one of our biggest challenges as church leaders is to effectively mobilise our congregation into mission and evangelism. Using guilt, or a sense of duty to a leader or church programme, is never the answer. What works is equipping people to discover the places and the ways in which they can most joyfully make a difference in the lives of others. It may just be that the most fruitful outreach ministry that your church could step into might not spring from your passion or gifts but from the passion and gifts of one or more of your church members if they are permissioned to do so.

When was the last time you saw a spark of joy and passion in the eyes of a member of your church as they spoke of the thrill of being used by God to touch a person’s life?

How are you going to plan to see that spark appear more often?

5. MULTIPLY YOUR IMPACT

John Jackson puts it this way:

‘God hasn’t called us to be like the Lone Ranger. Individuals multiply impact by mentoring others; churches multiply impact by planting new churches, resurrecting dying ones, and sending out missionaries. In both cases, God’s Kingdom grows wider and deeper all the time as we pass on what we know to the next generation of leaders.’

At your next church leadership meeting, elders board, deacons gathering, etc, why not take a good chunk of time to plan and pray for your church’s vision for leadership development, mission into Wales, and commitment to supporting church planting – by people, by prayer, by pounds?

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