14 Practices Of Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City

Impacting local communities is a primary goal for many successful churches.  These churches have been called to be a force for good in addressing the needs in the areas they reside.

The challenge many churches face is how to initiate relationships with skeptical school systems and local governments.  This is especially true in a liberal area such as Portland, OR.

Kevin Palau, President of the Luis Palau Association, and Portland’s former openly gay mayor Sam Adams recently sat down in a public forum (shown above) to discuss the genesis and impact of their partnership between the civic and evangelical communities.

As I watched their incredible interaction I gleaned the following 14 Practices Of Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City:

  1. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Are Desperate To Do So – Churches must be so desperate to impact their communities that they are willing to take a risk and reach out.  Kevin said, “Unless we change over time how we are perceived it would never make progress for the gospel.”
  2. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Have A Servant’s Heart – You are to serve your civic leaders not “agitate” them.
  3. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Do The Obvious – Kevin openly wondered what could happen “if we could mobilize 15,000 Christ followers to make a difference in Portland.”  Together they knew a partnership with the city could address hunger, homelessness, health care, the environment, public schools, foster care, and trafficking.
  4. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Appreciate The Value Of Their Civic Officials -  Civic officials simply do some things better than churches.  Kevin acknowledged,  “You guys are the experts and know the best way to meet needs on the ground.”
  5. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Earn Trust Over Time – Earning trust, especially trust for 28,ooo evangelicals, takes an extended period of time.
  6. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Provide A New Path For Solutions – Churches must be desperate to impact their communities.  Communities are equally desperate for solutions.  Mayor Adams said, “We were desperate for finding a new path, new partnerships.”
  7. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Overcome Stereotypes – Referring to the relationship between the evangelical and the gay community, Mayor Adams said, “You don’t get to choose how the mainstream portrays you.”
  8. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Must Humbly Initiate The Relationship – Adams admitted, “If this offer would not have come to the mayor’s office I don’t think I would have necessarily sought it out.  But the way it came to the mayor’s office, with humility and the willingness to work, and the clarity (that) this was not proselytizing.”
  9. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Do So With Excellence – The best way to win the confidence of your community is to serve them with excellence.  “Not a single complaint in all these years on any of these projects about proselytizing which was the #1 worry from the government.” – Mayor Adams
  10. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Start In The Local Schools - Kevin learned, “the school partnerships have been the most robust response because the churches and schools are in the neighborhood and they have obvious needs.”
  11. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Do It At The Ground Level – The relationship starts on the executive level but is most effective when done daily with average citizens.  Mayor Adams teaches us, “the most meaningful part of the partnership evolves from pastor to mayor to parishioners with passions and expertise on topics, problems, opportunities, with the public servants and other non-profits who are working in those areas….Too much of the relationship has been top-to-top rather than parishioners with the people who run the schools.”
  12. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Must Be Unified In Their Message – Kevin said, “the challenge in Portland is maintaining a spirit of unity with 400 churches ranging in attendance from 7,000 to 20.”
  13. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Disagree On A Few Issues – I was really blessed by Mayor Adams when he discovered “a fundamental challenge is to overcome…shrug off the mass media that if we disagree we must hate each other.”
  14. Churches Who Build Successful Partnerships With Their City Agree On Many Issues – Mayor Adams went on to add, “there are things we don’t agree on…We don’t agree on gay marriage.  We don’t agree on abortion.  But we actually agree on 8 out of 10 things that are really important to society.”

If your church participates in these 14 practices, you too may make a significant impact in your community.

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About briand@injoystewardship.com

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