BETTER LOVE: Backyard Missions

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BETTER LOVE: Backyard Missions

BETTER LOVE: Backyard Missions

As an urban missionary serving the San Francisco Bay Area for almost 20 years, God has impressed upon me the importance of equipping the local church to be on mission for God and to do missions in our own backyards. Though there are many called to international missions, the local church is called to Backyard Missions, which is essentially reaching the nations within our sphere of influence and impacting our communities. Backyard Missions is not a “Come, Join Us” invitation. Instead, it is a “Go and Make” mandate that requires an awareness of the social issues that plague our communities and understanding the needs of our neighbors.

As we find ourselves amid constant social crises with issues such as homelessness, sex trafficking, racial tensions, foster care, social justice movements, SOGI (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity), domestic violence, post-pandemic effects on individuals, families, children, and churches, to name a few, how do we, as Christ’s representatives, provide a message of compassion and hope and address these issues? How do we fulfill the commands Jesus deemed of utmost importance in Matthew 22:36-40, to love God and love others?

We must commit ourselves to sharing Better Love and join with our church body in a movement of loving our neighbors better.

How do we accomplish sharing Better Love? By becoming aware of the issues present outside the walls of our churches. Intentionally learning the greatest needs in your community can assist your church in shifting from in-reach (providing programs and ministries for congregants), to outreach (engaging local culture to address and meet needs).

Here are some practical first steps to take:

  • Research local issues to determine the needs
  • Determine what needs identified is your church equipped to address
  • Connect with others who are addressing the same needs for ideas
  • Partner with those identified in time, talent, or treasure
  • Be an advocate and supporter of sharing the need

Encouraging your church to have a Better Love focus inspires members to step out of the walls of the church and be challenged to be the hands, feet, and love of Jesus. It fosters the opportunity for building connections with fellow members and illustrates the vitality of the Body of Christ represented when its parts work together.

Here are some practical actions to take to exemplify Better Love:

  • Connect with a local homeless or domestic violence shelter to provide volunteer support, share gospel messages with the residents over a meal, or host a spa day for women.
  • Support a neighborhood school with Teacher Appreciation Day or activities, provide tutoring, classroom assistance, a clothing closet for impoverished families, lunch and recess yard supervision, or classroom assistants.
  • Establish a connection with a senior care facility to provide companionship or volunteer support.
  • Champion church members to consider fostering a child who needs a loving, Christian home or providing respite or support in an existing foster home
  • Coordinate neighborhood clean-ups or service projects
  • Volunteer or support a pregnancy crisis center
  • Provide an after-school program for local schools on their campus or at your church.

There are a multitude of ways your church can be of service or partner in service. Partnerships can be established with other churches or ministry organizations in your area to exponentially increase the kingdom’s impact. God desires for us to be interdependent on each other and totally dependent upon Him. Our objective should be for more than just serving, but to provide compassionate service for others. Ministries like ARISE2Read in Bellevue, promoting grade-level literacy in Tennessee, The Palau Association in Portland, Oregon, bringing Jesus into schools, and Help One Child, supporting families in foster care, are a few examples of organizations that connect with churches to empower outreach partnerships.

Researching current issues and community needs can provide insight into activating your church in backyard missions service. Commissioning leaders to champion coordination of regular local missional activities provides volunteer and engagement opportunities for your church.

Consider if your church is actively engaged and connected to ways to serve in local missions. If not, why not? If not you, then who?

If your church would like help with those first steps toward Better Love, reach out to your local Director of Missions or request a MissionInsite Demographic Report from the CSBC.

About the Author

Marshelle Wilburn
Executive Director, Today's Youth Matter

Marshelle Jackson Wilburn serves in a variety of roles across several organizations. She is the Executive Director of Today’s Youth Matter, she serves alongside her husband, Port, DOM/AMS at Bridges Bay Area Association as Systems and Operations Administrator & Women’s Network Coordinator, as well as Administrator for their church, Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship in San Pablo, along with its recovery ministry, Clean Living Learning Center Sober Living Environment Homes. She is the mother of 6 adult children, and grandmother (Noni) to her first grandchild. Marshelle loves studying and teaching the Bible, gospel-centric engagement, coffee, and beaches.

More About Marshelle Wilburn
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