Steve Sjogren says the first step to getting your church involved in meeting community needs is to begin asking the Lord to show you the pain of your community: “Ask the Lord for the gift of knowing and identifying your community’s pain. Every city is unique in its problems, hurts, and pains.”
Steve reminds us that few unchurched people are looking for a church. What they are looking for is relief from their pain. If we can understand what that pain is, think creatively about ways to relieve it, and then demonstrate unconditional love, we will have come a long way toward the goal of reconciling those people to God.
How often do we really understand the pain others suffer? You may have heard of those awareness classes where for one day people must remain in a wheelchair and not use their legs, or wear a blindfold for the whole day. Those can be eye-opening experiences to the world of those with physical disabilities. Multiple colleges and ministries have similar experiences where people become “homeless” for a night—walking the streets of their community with nothing but a blanket, visiting shelters and food pantries. One student who participated commented afterwards, “It was the first time I ever realized those were real people out there.”