50 Ways #2 — Looking Through the Lens of Literacy

2.  Put the lens of literacy on everything the church does and make education a priority in your church.  Encourage church leadership to act on this.

I once had a camera with the capacity to interchange lenses:  telephoto, wide angle and portrait.  Now, that’s done electronically by all but serious photographers.  Each special purpose lens or setting accomplishes something different.  The key is the intention of the user.  For example, a wide angle approach to a panoramic view makes all the difference. 

Intentionally having a literacy lens for churches is the key to improving results regarding education.  Have you heard the story of the last time a low-level reader went to Sunday school? It followed the teacher asking each one to read a verse from the lesson.  Asking for volunteers works much better.  Sensitivity to the needs of others can lead to ministry.

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Years ago, the husband of one of the members of my Sunday school class was one of those whose heart would have actually stopped beating if he had been called on to read aloud. His wife shared this need with me.  We met before Sunday school to work on his literacy skills.  You would never have guessed that he had a problem with reading.  With four million adults in Texas lacking high school completion or a GED, there are others.  Perhaps in your church.  Certainly down the street. 

On a positive note, the items that follow on the list of 50 ways churches can bless their community through literacy, items 3-49, flow out of prayer and intentionality.  They don’t just happen. Check out the list.  Ask for guidance considering the needs of your congregation and community.  Speak with your pastor and other leaders about how your church can be impactful, intentional and missional through literacy ministry.

Take a minute to consider #50.  It’s blank of course.  Our way of saying that we don’t have it all figured out.  Having looked at the list now, what would you add?  Please share.

How’s your focus?glasses

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50 Ways–The Journey

Congregations have the opportunity to address needs all around them through literacy ministry. Take a journey with us through 50 Ways to explore the possibilities. We’ll use our new poster as a guide, blogging our way through the church, community, and capitol. But not in the order of the list. We’ll cover the first two, and then take a seasonal approach – making connections with calendar and other considerations.

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Ministry through literacy may be done at many levels and with various age groups. Churches are full of people with diverse skills, passions, and gifts. Each member can take part in assisting and equipping other members in the areas of literacy and education.

#1 Pray

Churches large and small can pray. Not every church can host a family reading fair on the Border or begin a program to teach English to speakers of other languages. But every church can pray for its community. 

Many studies have been conducted on the efficacy of prayer—whether and how it works.  Some measure impact of the one or ones who pray; others the object of the prayers.  This blog will not add measurably to that discussion.  What can’t be denied is that a church praying for its community is more aware of need and more willing to address that need.

Pray with me as we drive from my church north a couple of miles:


It’s hard getting out of the parking lot on school mornings.  That’s where parents park to walk their children to school.  Pray with me for the children and their families.  For the teachers and others who work there.

Our neighborhood is changing.  Residents of several homes would be greatly affected by immigration legislation now pending.  Pray for persons living in the shadows, fearful and hopeful.

The businesses on the corners have changed in thirty years.  Bustling grocery stores and restaurants are now in third, fourth, and fifth iterations.  Changes in the global economy has impacted how people are able to make ends meet.  Pray for the ones looking for jobs.

As we continue north, we’ll pass by many apartment complexes no longer the upscale singles destinations in the original developers’ minds.  Here Katrina refugees lived for a season.  Now refugees from other kinds of storms may be seen walking to the Laundromat.  Pray for people figuring out how to cope with life’s challenges.

 WHP School

Now we arrive at the elementary school our church adopted last year.  Our smallish church with less than 100 attending services.  Yet, because we prayed and got involved, persons have been blessed.

What does it look like down the street for you?  Join me today, please, in praying for our communities.

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Improving Our Serve

Recently Literacy Connexus received a grant from The Trull Foundation to update our Fifty Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy poster.  We consolidated and combined, added to and subtracted from the first edition.  Most of the items on the first run were borrowed from others, with some modification. In addition to covering the design and printing costs, the Trull Foundation grant enabled us to launch the new product with a presentation at the Literacy Texas Annual Conference in San Marcos in August.

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Perhaps you have already seen the new version. We grouped the ways churches can help into three categories by location:  on the church campus, in the community, and at the capitol.  The idea is to stretch our thinking and improve our serve.  Here’s a challenge.  Look at the list and identify how many your church is currently doing.  Not a competition; just an exercise in awareness of community connection.

Before our first daughter (Leslie) was born, Donna and I participated in a Lamaze class.  At one point there was a competition among the dads for speed diapering.  What a laugh to see expectant dads racing to diaper large baby dolls.  Later it occurred to me that speed was not the most important factor in diapering . . .

Diapering dad

Just as speed is not the most crucial aspect of diapering babies, quantity is not the best way to approach the Fifty Ways list.  It’s not how many of those on the list describe your church, but how serving through these ways blesses your community.

Oh, and please notice that #50 is blank:  Share your idea with us! What is your church doing to bless your community through literacy and education?  Recently, at the WMU Fiesta at Green’s Creek Baptist Church, Pam Patterson suggested taking books and magazines to Veterans Hospitals.  Great idea!  This is the first #50; perhaps you have another.  We’ll be sharing these on the website.

Click here for our online Fifty Ways list.  Contact us if you would like us to send you some free copies of our Fifty Ways poster.

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