Ever wonder how to make a lasting impact on your community?
Well, Alan Platt has spent the majority of his life figuring out the answer to that very question. Since 1983 Alan’s life has been full-time ministry. Doxa Deo in his home city of Pretoria, South Africa, grew from a meager congregation into a flourishing thirty-thousand-member church across eleven fully integrated campuses. Alan and the leadership team of Doxa Deo feel called to plant churches in strategic cities around South Africa and the world such as London, Auckland, Stuttgart, and Miami, with the missional mind-set of engaging culture and society for the purpose of affecting communities around the world. Through ministry and a vision of what the church can become, Alan is now a well-respected figure in more traditionally secular spheres such as business, education, and society at large.
Affect the Culture with Christ
Doxa Deo’s effort to plant churches around the world is far more impactful than just buildings, in the vision of Alan Platt. Alan sees the need for a church-wide movement to plant churches in the epicenters of modern culture, where the largest and most diverse groups of people live. Through the City Changers Movement, Alan leads and designs ways for churches to unite behind a common goal of making real impact in city life. City Changers requires individual church effort to embolden and grow the greater church for the purpose of affecting culture. In the simplest of terms, this movement works only by making the church an integral and irreplaceable component of society. When you step back from the idea, it is relatively common sense since all churchgoing members have lives outside Sunday service. Alan simply thinks that the church should have a life beyond Sundays that affects communities through service outside the church.
Make the Difference
If your church feels ready to gain connection with the community and win over hearts in your city, consider these five concepts.
1. Changing our mentality
There are definitely concerns we as believers have about the world, and some of them can be scary and difficult problems to solve. But what if, instead of calling out people for things they have done, we showed compassion for their situation and simply loved them like Jesus?
2. Developing a strategy
Planning for the future is something we naturally do as humans, but if we take time to make a plan for our church, we can truly plan for the miracle to happen.
3. Taking small steps
Engaging cities and communities can look like an overwhelming task, but no church, regardless of size, is going to win over its city in a day. That’s why we should look for little problems we can solve now and slowly build to the bigger ones. It’s a sure way to gain confidence and find better ways of serving.
4. Multiplying the impact
Send out the people in your church to serve their communities. The church’s official programs can do only so much, but if every individual member of the church is serving, that’s a quick way to multiply the impact faith can have on a city. And be on the lookout for ways to form partnerships with other organizations in the community to broaden the church’s reach even more.
5. Engage the other side
If you’re doing all the previous steps right, this one should come as second nature. Continually look for new ways to reach people and places in your community that haven’t been reached before. That’s how we can make Christianity into more than religion—it will be a movement.
To help you pinpoint quicker the unreached areas in your city or community, consider these seven spheres that could help you reach more people.
- Social services
- Arts and culture
Christians engage these spheres at some level every day, influencing them with the love of Jesus. Think of how much bigger the impact could be if churches were intentional in their efforts to affect culture around them.
Alan firmly believes the pastoral role is to be the spiritual leader and influencer of the entire community. For pastors to reach cities with real impact, three key mind-set shifts are necessary for success.
1. Transforming vs. Informing
Transform church members into real agents for change in their communities through teaching that confronts issues they will encounter in the spheres they interact with.
2. Incarnation vs. Dualism
Convert the mind-set of dualism, where faith is in conflict with life outside the church, and instead encourage believers that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can affect our cities and communities with Christ’s love.
3. Missional vs. Attractional
Most specific to the pastoral position is a missional mind-set over an attractional one. The success and effectiveness of a church have to do not with filled seats on Sunday but rather with how the church is serving needs and pains within its community.
Waves of revival come and go, but communities and cities diverge further from the truth and morality we know as Christians. That’s why a movement of the church affecting the communities and lives of people is so needed. The quicker we accept God as the Lord of all things (including business, sports, education, etc.), the faster our churches and faith can become so synonymous with those spheres that without the church they are unrecognizable. If any of Alan’s concepts are appealing, take time to listen to a speech he gave in the United Kingdom. For a more detailed and in-depth discussion, check out his book City Changers. God is revealing Himself to all people, and it’s on us to take that message to where they live.