Be|Undivided’s 5 Core Principles Part 6—Community

A great leader once said, "There go my people. I must catch them for I am their leader."

As leader of the SouthLake Church-Roosevelt High School partnership in Portland, Oregon, I must say that I have often felt exactly like that. From the beginning, I have felt I am the one following God's church as He inspires His people to engage and serve kids in community.

Believers and churches all across America are embracing the notion that we have an opportunity to not only respond to culture, but help transform it. This happens as we meet the real needs of society as an extension and expression of our faith.

But it takes a village. It takes people willing to serve TOGETHER!

What most impacted me personally as SouthLake began serving the RHS community, was observing the broader community impact which resulted from individuals in a church serving together as a demonstration of their faith.

The lesson I learned was striking: PEOPLE GET IT! When we serve as a church together in community, without a hidden agenda, people GET that our motivation is faith-based. And not only do they GET it, most expect it, and even appreciate it! ... at least that has been our experience in the last six years serving kids at RHS.

While the SL-RHS partnership may represent the impact a relatively large church can have, we have seen that churches of any size, by serving together, can have a dramatic impact on a school.

One church in suburban Portland (with weekend attendance of 75 people) adopted a local elementary school of 300 kids to the mutual transformation of both communities. This aging (and declining) church needed a cause, as it was facing closing it's doors. The under-resourced school, located only blocks away, needed help overcoming obstacles and meeting the needs of kids.

A representative from the church simply decided to walk down the street to the school, meet with the principal, and ask the Jesus Question: "What do you want me to do for you?" (Matt. 20:32).

What transpired was a meaningful and powerful partnership of mutual transformation. The church had a new mission - representing Christ by meeting needs in their own neighborhood. The school had significant new resources - 75 caring adults dedicating themselves to coming alongside staff and students.

Whatever the size of the church, the power of life transformation happens in community. Transformation and life impact happens, to us and through us, when we serve ... not only as individuals, but when we serve together.

In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world, a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden." Matt. 5:14 (NLT)

Jesus is teaching that the church is to be a penetrating influence of light and life in a world of darkness. This penetrating influence of light is "like a city on a hilltop". In this profound teaching of Christ, it's easy to miss the obvious fact that "a city" is a collective place. Although a city is made up of individuals, it is, of course, not itself an individual. Perhaps the greatest expression of light to the world is realized when we see ourselves as Jesus sees us ... not just as individuals, but as a city- a community serving and working corporately- using our individual callings and giftings together, to penetrate our culture with light.

What we're learning about the power of community has become a core principle for the Be|Undivided vision. Indeed, the ultimate power of the Be|Undivided vision of church- school partnerships is in the corporate and unified expression.

When we serve schools and their kids together as a church and faith community, a greater impact is realized for the school ... AND a greater impact is realized for the genuine representation of the One we seek to ultimately serve.

by Kip Jacob