Posted by: Philip Rushton | September 29, 2011

Community Conversations On Social Issues at LCC

One of the things we talk a lot about on the blog is the importance of community engagement. In a previous post titled, “Spheres of Justice,” I suggested that our call to help and care for the poor cannot always happen at an institutional level. I used Abraham Kuypers concept of sphere sovereignty to make a distinction between the institutional and organic church. The church as an institution will not have the infrastructure to become a full time community support agency. We may be able to do a couple large programs well (ie Fish, Sylvan Lodge), but we cannot be all things to all people. Yet, the organic church (meaning the collection of all believers), can have a huge impact as each member engages with the various spheres of influence they have. Therefore, being missional church is going to involve a lot of grass roots initiatives. The role of the institutional church is primarily to produce disciples that will then live out their faith in culture. Our ability to impact culture is going to be multiplied as individuals and small groups engage with the sphere they inhabit.

Timothy Keller uses a helpful metaphor to explain this distinction. He takes the issue of film-making. As a church we would love to produce disciples who would become redemptive film-makers, however as an institution we do not have the infrastructure to make feature films.

Part of the way forward, I believe, is to become more aware of the ways in which we can engage with our community. We need more awareness of the needs of our community and the ways in which we can best respond to these needs.

This fall, Lower Columbia College is hosting a “Community Conversations” lecture series. Each Thursday at noon, various community service agencies are going to do a presentation on how our community is dealing with a specific social issue. The issues discussed range from poverty, homelessness, victims of crime, disabilities, and teen pregnancy. You can read more about the various topics and find the schedule by clicking here.

I’m planning to attend these conversations and have invited some of our deacons to attend as well. If anybody is interested in coming let me know. I’m hoping that by participating in these conversations we might get a better sense of the needs of our community, find ways that we can partner or support the various agencies, and consider whether there are gaps in these agencies that we as a church might be able to fill. If we get a few people to come out, perhaps we could grab a coffee afterward and talk about how we might respond to some of these issues as a church.

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