Thursday, January 29, 2009

So the weather is still less than wondrous so we cancelled church tonight. This means no follow-up so I thought I would explore some of my plans that I discussed yesterday a bit further. I'm sure everyone is aware that the church isn't perfect. It has never been perfect mostly because it is populated by people who are imperfect. The church is in fact the sum of its parts. Funny how that works.

I'm not interested in tearing the church apart. Plenty of people do that so I don't have to waste my time. I am interested in how we can make the church better. One of the biggest flaws that I see in the church is really more of a problem with perception. People often see the church as a place obsessed with taking. I can see where this becomes an issue because almost everything costs money and so we have to get the money if we want to spend the money. We also need volunteers to do the work. This means that we really do ask for plenty of handouts. There have been some churches, or rather individuals that have taken advantage of this but most churches and individuals don't.

This creates a very difficult situation because we can't altogether stop asking for money and volunteers. If we did that we'd have to shut the doors to the church. This means that we must find another way to alter this problem of perception. The only other way to treat this issue without resorting to shutting the doors of the church is to find ways to serve the community without asking for anything in return. This is an issue I have been thinking about for quite some time. One of the solutions I am planning is a community awareness class for new parents. This does several things.

First this allows us to reach out to people who are in an ideal place to receive the Gospel. It is well known that the best time to reach a person for Christ is before they turn 18. After that people are must less likely to respond to the message, but there are major life events that make people more receptive. Having a child is huge. It is also very overwhelming and new parents need a sense of community if they want to succeed as parents. Personally I couldn't imagine trying to raise my kids without the support of my family and church.

This brings us to the second accomplishment. It creates a stronger community. New parents get to meet other new parents. They will find friends going through what they are going through. Hopefully they will also get plugged in with more experienced parents that know what it is like to get so frustrated with your baby who won't let you sleep that you just don't know what to do. We need people who have been through this so we know we aren't monsters when we feel like screaming at the baby. We need to know that other people worry about the same things we worry about and we need to know how to find help when we are at our wit's end.

The third is simple education. When my first 3 kids were born in another state they had a mandatory CPR and First Aid class before parents left the hospital. I had to go through the class 3 times. It only took about half an hour but I think it was time well spent for new parents. Here they don't have that. There are so many parents out there that don't know how to help a choking infant or how to do infant CPR. This is pretty important. I am working with the local hospital to get this added to our program for free. That is pretty awesome. There are some other ways that we need to educate young parents. We need to teach them how to install car seats right and even when to go visit the doctor. These are all very real and very simple needs. They are also things we can do for free if we work with other agencies trying to do the same thing.

Finally it helps us to develop community relationships. This isn't the same as my third point. Specifically I'm looking at relationships between the church and other community organizations. When we work together it helps the church to give back to the community without needing to ask for money and volunteers or at least as many. I am trying to work with some other groups that are interested in the same goals. The local hospital has a grant to provide community education for CPR and First Aid. The local police force auxiliary helps with child safety checks and education. I am trying to get a doctor or nurse from a pediatric office to agree to talk about other health concerns. All of these relationships strength the community in general and I hope they will strengthen the perception of the church.

This is one of my ideas for reaching people in the 20-40 age group as well as helping to change the perception of the church in our community. Anyone else have ideas or suggestions about things I should consider doing with this event?