This past Saturday, I did a breakout session at a local ministry training event called the Equip Conference on the topic of “Community-Driven Ministry”. Below I shared the brief steps from my session to becoming Community-Driven:
(A few of the thoughts below are from a great training tool called ‘Compassion by Design‘)
1. Identify Needs
- Step out of the church walls and get into your community:
- Pay attention to what you hear people saying – take time to listen.
- The most important thing this does is not to just identify needs, but helps you build relationships.
- This takes time. Don’t rush this. Identifying needs and building relationships will not happen in one evening of walking the streets of your community.
- Most often, your distant assessment of a community’s needs, even if you’ve lived there a long time, will be very different then an unchurched resident’s assessment.
- It’s difficult to see the needs in the marketplace when you’re sitting in the comfort of the church.
- Engaging the community benefits you more than just identifying needs, but meeting the people you are trying to reach.
- Before you can be community-driven, you have to know what you’re driving towards.
- What are the pressing needs in your community?
- How is this done?
- Through informal community surveys.
- Through conversations with community officials.
- Through interactions and involvement in community projects.
2. Involve Your Church
- This should not be done by just one leader or pastor. For Community-Driven ministry to take hold in your church, it must be a value held by the whole church.
- It takes time for those in your church to come to value this – but the more they are out in the community, the more they will value ministry to the community.
- We can run this risk of mentally ‘dehumanizing’ the “lost”. Your goal is to help your people personalize the need of the community. Put faces to it…it’s not just ‘their problem’ – it’s our problem.
- Benefits for the church:
- Helps build relationships in the community
- Gives understanding to the potential need of adjusting ministry models
- It drives home the vision of reaching a community to your people
3. Impact Your Community
- Once you’ve identified the needs in your community and built relationships. You need to pray and decide where your organizations’ “sweet spot” is:
- MOST SIGNIFICANT NEEDS:
- Where are the most critical needs in the community?
- What need groups are already present the congregation or team as either overcomers (those walking faithfully while they struggle with life-controlling challenges) or potential leaders?
- Among which need groups do you sense a readiness for assistance?
- RESOURCES & GIFTS:
- What resources has God provided?
- What resources might be available in the community?
- What are the unique gifts, talents and people that God has placed in the church or on your team?
- CALLING & PASSIONS:
- What needs in the community fuel a God-authored sense of compassion?
- What are the unique callings of the church/leadership team?
- What is the history of compassionate service in your church?
Keys for success in community-driven ministry:
- God-inspired Passion
- Clear understanding of Needs
- A workable plan of action
- The right people to execute the plan