How to Create Safe Church Environments for Broken People
A new person walked through the doors of City On a Hill one night.
She had never had visited our church before, and recently lost two family members to the COVID-19 virus. After we had a few texts and email conversations, she came to attend our GriefShare group, hoping to get comfort by connecting with others.
But before she came, we reached out to help her in her pain.
In her grief, she sought help by turning to search the internet. Luckily, the Explorer campaigns—Gloo’s cooperative digital ad campaigns that aim to connect local people with real, felt needs to local churches—turned out to be the bridge that brought us together.
At City On a Hill, we believe that it is our job to help the hurting—both in our church and in our community. With the help of these felt-needs-based campaigns, our church was able to learn that the top felt needs in the community we serve include loneliness, anxiety, relationships, and sadness—and individuals nearby were being matched to our church.
Armed with this knowledge, we began connecting these individuals with people in the church that have relatable experiences and could offer the support and care that each individual needed. We connected grieving people with others that have walked the grief process, those struggling with depression with others that have and still are wrestling with that struggle, all with the goal of offering them the opportunity to experience real help, hope, and healing of Jesus through his body—and, it's working.
We have been able to effectively engage new people through texting and phone calls as our initial point of contact as we respond to their communicated need—and this allowed us to offer a personalized invitation to a particular small group, or to arrange a meeting with them. That has sometimes occurred outside of the four walls of our church, such as one-on-one meetings at local coffee shops.
Our church has also been able to leverage Gloo to extend our mission and vision statements, which include, in part, “Making church a safe place for people.” Although we already knew that there were scores of people in Fort Worth and our surrounding community with genuine hurts and needs, we were limited in our opportunities to let a larger number of people know that a) our church was nearby, and b) we care.
"Our church also uses Gloo to live out our mission and vision statements, which include, in part, ‘Making church a safe place for people."
Adding to this, we also noticed that many new people needed just as much help with logistics as they did felt needs. For instance, three of the Explorers who connected with our church at an in-person gathering lacked a mode of transportation to get to our location.
In response, we developed and implemented a 'ride to church' program. And, the results have been amazing! Today, we have eight drivers across the DFW metroplex who volunteer to drive new people to our church for support groups, services, and more.
For City on a Hill, a new Explorer connection isn't just another anonymous click in a sea of anonymous internet users. These people are right here in our community, eager to connect with a church that will be a safe place to share their secrets. They are real people who need real hope, help, and healing.
After that night, the woman who joined our GriefShare group sent me a personal message to say that she planned on returning to our church on Sunday because she appreciated the community so much.
"These people are right here in our community, eager to connect with a church that will be a safe place to share their secrets. They are real people who need real hope, help, and healing."
City on a Hill uses modern means and technologies to reach and connect with new people, but what we are really doing is simply being the Church in a timeless way—helping to meet the needs of the people around us in every way we can.