One at a Time

March 07, 2017

by Maria King


One conversation at a time. One story at a time. One room at a time. These three sentences describe how we spread the Gospel and how to begin the crucial process of community engagement. Learning from author Peter Block, I find building healthy and strong relationships is crucial to leading any group of people toward authentic and sustainable community engagement. In addition, leadership in community engagement is centered and grounded in how we can begin and cultivate quality relationships between the people in our communities. Moreover, the quality of the relationships measures the quality of our community.

How we create relationships toward an authentic and sustainable communities is crucial, and it all begins with trust. Trust begins with listening and learning from every conversation. Asking intentional questions brings true narratives to the surface to reveal how people really feel and what they desire for their community. Here are a small sample of questions as you lead people toward community: “Tell me the story about your community?” “What is the best part of your community?” “What do you enjoy within your community?” I must admit the amount of questions you should ask are just as numerous as the ones you should not ask. In general, never ask a question about someone who is not in the room. For example, “How do we get those people to come to church?” or “How do we get others to do more at church?” You cannot build a relationship or community with anyone when the person is not present physically or emotionally in the room.

Along with asking great questions, another crucial skill for a leader in community engagement is listening to learn. Leaders must listen to learn the language and narrative of the community. Once you hear the storylines you are able to ask another layer of questions and then another layer so the fabric of relationships build a strong union of God’s Beloved People. The primary role of a community engagement leader is to provide experiences for the members of the community to build quality relationships. The end result is to build trust so the community can truly engage the whole community and value every story and every person. How do we build trust? How do you start the crucial process as a leader? One conversation at a time. One story at a time. One room at a time. Community engagement is the gospel, and community leaders are the evangelists we need. To build shalom, hope, and true intimacy with God, we need communities who take their time weaving us together one heart at a time.
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.