Today we’re challenging you to learn a bit about your community and what it has to offer.

Below are some suggestions for starting points. Don’t feel obligated to look up everything, but choose a few to focus on.

If your city council has a website, check it out. Learn about the members of your city council and any important updates from your city government. Find out when city council meetings are and where they meet.

Read your local newspaper and/or watch your local news channel. Find out about issues that concern those within your community. What are your city's demographics?

Look up the chamber of commerce and see if they have any upcoming events. Scroll through the list of members. Are there any businesses you didn’t know were in town?

Are there any museums in your city? Check to see if they have any new exhibits. What organizations or clubs does your city offer? Are there any you would be interested in joining? Do they have any upcoming events you can attend?

Do you know what other churches are in your community? Are there any local Christian organizations or businesses you can support? Where are a few places you would enjoy volunteering? Find out about events at local schools or activities run by your local parks and recreation department.

After you spend some time looking up some of these things, discuss what you learned with at least one person. It can be someone you know or someone standing behind you in line at the grocery store. Make an effort to engage in your community.

Conveniently, my minister presented this same challenge just about a year ago in our church.  He included a flyer about the various Advisory Boards Commissions our mayor had set up in town and encouraged us to get involved and sign up for them.  I applied for two - the Human Rights Commission and the Sister Cities Board - but wasn't selected for either one this time around.  But that hasn't stopped me, either.

I build websites and coach marketing strategy for a living.  In the past election cycle, I had the opportunity to work with a sitting member of the Beaverton City Council.  I worked with this Councillor to develop a campaign website, design several campaign mailers, and generally reach the community.  In the end, she won the re-election; I'm now working on her upcoming race for a seat as a county commissioner.  Working directly with a local politician has helped me stay connected with the community - I get to hear about the most interesting issues before anyone else.

There are several quality Christian organizations in town.  I've given my time to Love INC in the past.  As I mentioned last time, I'm a part of a small group with another church in addition to my own.  I also support some other great charitable organizations.  I volunteer frequently for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, and I've been trying to recruit other volunteers this year, too.  I'm also an Assistant Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop (they're at summer camp at the beach this week).

It's actually easier to get involved in the community than most people think.  It doesn't take a solid commitment to volunteer.  It doesn't require you to invest personally in strangers.  All connecting requires is that you step outside yourself and engage with those around you on some level.  Say "bless you" to someone who sneezes in line.  Hold the door for a barista taking out the trash.  Read the daily paper and discuss local politics with a co-worker - discuss, don't debate.

Making an effort to be interested in those who surround you life will help you connect to the, grow your social circle, and open up opportunities to minister to those who haven't met Christ.