An article in the March/April 2016 Outreach talked a program called Aspire! Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts at Ashland First United Methodist Church in Ashland, Kentucky. It is a resource made available by and at the church in which children attend piano classes and private lessons for band instruments. While there is a cost for the lessons, donations from members keep the program running.
What is remarkable is that In the process, the community comes in contact with the church and becomes more aware of the worship and devotional life of the congregation. Many children in the classes even play their instruments in worship and become involved in the life of the church. In many ways, the program is raising uo the next generation of worship leaders and often helping their parents recognize the value of a Christian environment.
“Using the church building five evenings a week, our church comes alive in the eyes of the community, ” said DeNiel Hartley, the administrator of Aspire!
To me this is something we need to do more of in our churches today. Providing a service to the community through the church is a win-win for everyone. In the case of Aspire!, children learn a valuable skill for life, more people are entering the church and the church is gaining musicians for future worship. All the while the life of faith in that space is being revealed with every interaction.
What are some other ways in which church and community can come together for a common cause to benefit both? The opportunities are endless and each congregation has a unique quality that it can offer.
It is good practice for us as church leaders to keep our eyes open to the talents and abilities of those in the congregation that can also be used for the common good in some way.
The biggest part of this all, of course, is taking a risk and doing it. As Hartley says, “Sometimes you have to take that step of faith.” God can do the rest. Faith grows as a result. We just have to let it happen.”
As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
As you feel comfortable, share on this blog what programs your church has launched to reach out to the community at large. I would love to know more about what God is up to and what the Spirit is leading you to do to touch more and more people with the love of Christ.