The mission field for the contemporary church is no longer a far-off place. It is no longer sufficient to call and send missionaries to bring good news to people an ocean away. Every neighborhood, city, or town is now a mission field. In the United States, following the same path as Western Europe, more and more people are being born, raised, and moving into adulthood never having participated in Christian community. More and more people, soon to be a majority, have never attended worship, Sunday school, or church camp.
At the same time our existing congregations are becoming more disconnected from their communities. How many committed laypeople have strong relationships with those outside of their church circles? We have become cut off to the point that we do not even know who is in our communities.
Better understanding your community is a required step for any congregation seeking to better live out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Oftentimes it is not what we are saying but how we are saying it that causes our outreach efforts to fall flat. Like in Acts 2, our job is to translate the message of the good news into a language our neighborhood can hear.