Best Practice #4: Pastor the Community
Given the clarity of Christ’s command in Matthew 25, we know why these churches place such a premium on community outreach.
But how do they fit that into the daily demands of ministry? And how do they then inspire their people to make it such a high priority in the midst of their busy lives? Three strategies emerge as the ones that make this work.
Set a high bar for serving the church and the community.
Best-practice churches make it clear early and often that they count on congregants to serve the needs of both the church and the community. The clergy set the tone and pace for this commitment because - according to senior pastor Steve Gallimore of Tennessee Valley Community Church - “your people will care no more than you do; go no farther than you will. It’s that simple.”
Build a bridge into your local community.
Most best-practice churches establish strong relationships, and often partnerships, with other churches, non-profits, and community leaders. They do this for two reasons: to stay in touch and involved with the most pressing community needs, and to generate the greatest possible impact by working shoulder-to-shoulder with others to address those needs.
Make serving a platform for the gospel.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says Barbara Sullivan, who co-pastors Spirit of God Fellowship in South Holland, Illinois, with her husband, John. Her comment acknowledges that best-practice pastors see a natural affinity between sharing the gospel and serving those who are struggling and broken - because people who feel hopeless have hearts that are fertile ground for Christ’s message of grace and redemption.
Building and extending the love of God into our communities is essential to fulfilling our Baptismal Covenant and leaning into love of God and our neighbor. Congregational Support is partnering with Episcopal Ministries of Long Island in assisting churches in hearing the call to mission that God is preparing for them. EMLI offers a variety of services to support community ministry and outreach: Workshops, Grants for Mission, Grants for Congregational Development. EMLI also offers instruction and guidance in Asset Based Community Development, working with the best of what is already present and building up the community and the congregation.
An Asset-Based Approach to Engaging Church and Community is centered around the belief that individuals, groups, and communities have the gifts they need to address the needs they see around them.
The Asset-Based Community Development framework helps individuals discover:
As part of the resources offered by Episcopal Ministries of L.I., ABCD Workshops and Information Sessions can be scheduled on-site, upon request. Classes are customized and tailored for specific content and duration.
For more information or to organize a session at your parish or deanery, please contact Franca Floro, Program Director with Episcopal Ministries at (516) 248-4800 Ext. 149 or FFloro@dioceseli.org