Wineskins Archive

December 19, 2013

An Urban Church Engages Its World (Jul-Aug 1997)

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by Billie Silvey
July – August, 1997

The “world” that Scripture warns us against entanglement with is not the people who live around us. They are the world Christ loved so much he died for, and we’re to be like him.

In an attempt to do this, the Culver Palms Church of Christ in Los Angeles practices what I call “broad creative engagement.” Broad because it’s active on a number of fronts. Creative in seeking new and innovative means of reaching out. Engagement by involving the church to impact the community.

Los Angeles is different from some areas of the country in that the church here is plagued, not with a bad reputation, but with no reputation at all. That can mean either a clean slate or a profound indifference.

We try to overcome that indifference and make a compelling impression in seven ways:

Attractive facilities. Our building is both striking and warm, with contemporary stained glass, dark wood paneling, and red carpets. Romanesque arches echo Southern California’s heritage while modern architecture fits its environment. Care is evident in flowers blooming in terraces by the steps, the general upkeep of the interior, and prompt attention to graffiti removal.

Attractive programs. An excellent schedule of classes for children and adults, with special classes in parenting, money management, and faith development, attract and keep visitors. Supplementary activities for children include Bible Bowl, Leadership Training for Christ, a children’s library and a reading program.

Friendly greeting. The Great Invitation Ministry sees that each visitor is welcomed, with follow-up by mail and telephone. Many members park off our premises to free the parking lot for visitors.

We average 10 first-time visitors weekly, about two-thirds from the community, in a congregation of 300 adults. In the past years, we’ve baptized 34 and 77 have placed membership, many returning to faith after years of inactivity.

Attractive advertising. We actively reach out through programs like Fiesta La Ballona and VBS. Our both at Fiesta, a community festival in a nearby park, features a game for kids, materials for their parents, and friendly staffers. VBS attracts 65-75 percent community children, and we attempt to follow up with their parents.

Our advertising features our diverse members and their interesting careers and hobbies.

Stimulating Outreach Events. “No to Violence” is a city-wide campaign hosted by a different congregation each night. Color posters, flyers, news releases, and personal contacts inform the community. School store in August, turkey and grocery distribution at Thanksgiving and Angel Tree Party at Christmas serve needy families.

Networking. We participate in civic and school activities so we can invite people to attend our programs and explore ways to cooperate. Local schools contact the church with families in need. Bank of America has helped underwrite “No to Violence.” Local high school students volunteered with our young people to fix lunches for the homeless.

Life Skill Labs. In this year’s “No to Violence,” we’re announcing our Life Skills Lab which begins in mid-September. Ten weeks of classes for people who need jobs allows us both to serve and evangelize. We reach people in civic groups, schools, and businesses through partnerships and volunteering.

Many in Los Angeles are cut off from their religious roots. Broad creative engagement is one way to love them as Jesus loves them, by giving of ourselves for God’s glory.Wineskins Magazine

Billie Silvey

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