Work in small groups and think about our own church. Describe what our church is like, using a picture or symbol. Draw this inside a large circle on a big sheet of paper. Then share together and explain what the drawings mean. You could also use a role play to describe what our church is like.

There are many ways in which our church affects the wider community. Some are open and obvious, while others are more hidden, particularly in countries where believers face opposition. These may include practical caring, visiting schools or hospitals, or meeting with community leaders. Think of all the different groups of people in the wider community who do not belong to our church. Discuss what each of these groups of people might think about the church.

Using a coloured pen, draw arrows coming out from the circle around the church to show each positive influence of the church within the community. Use thicker arrows for the most important influences. Label each arrow. Use dotted lines to show possible future influences.

Share and explain the information on each piece of paper and take time to discuss what we have discovered.

Discussion 
  • Thinking of the pictures drawn, what sort of church do the people around us think we are?
  • What is the relationship between our church and the different groups in the community around it? How can we improve our relationship with different groups in the community?
  • Read Matthew 5:13. Salt can preserve food. It also brings flavour to food.
    • Why does Jesus say that Christians are ‘the salt of the earth’?
    • How can we be like ‘salt’?
    • In what ways could we lose our ‘saltiness’?
  • Read Matthew 5:14-16. How does our own ‘light’ shine on those around us?
    • Do we sometimes try to cover up the ‘light’?
    • How can we shine more brightly?
  • What are the needs and challenges for our church, both from within and from outside? How many of these are we meeting today?
  • Are we aware of issues that cause conflict or lack of unity within our church? How could we try to deal with these?
  • What are the likely future challenges for our church?