This past spring our congregation applied for and was accepted into a program of the Center for Congregations called the Community Ministry Grants program. We’re one of 30 congregations in central Indiana that is participating in an educational process that will equip us with skills and strategies for assessing our congregation’s passions and assets, conducting a community listening process, and developing a comprehensive community ministry plan. We’ll have the opportunity next year to apply for a matching grant to fund a new ministry with our neighbors in the community around us.
We got a head-start on this program in May when we held a series of congregational conversations on our vision for the next 3-5 years, and our board created a Vision Implementation Team that has been working since the beginning of the summer. Much of that visioning work has to do with the community around our church building, and the Community Ministry Grants program dovetailed so well with this work we were already beginning that it made perfect sense to apply.
The first of the three educational days was today. Sandra Gourdet, Dick Hamm, Marcia Phillips, Jill Michel and I are your team for this program. We had fruitful conversation about the difference between doing mission “for” people and doing mission “with” people. And the difference between “meeting needs” in the community and “building on assets” in the community. Good stuff!
Central’s commitment to community ministry is nothing new. We believe that God loves all people, so how could we not reach out to share love? Historically our community ministry has focused on meeting the basic needs of people who struggle to get by. Now our neighborhood has changed significantly, and we find ourselves asking again about faithful and effective ministry that embodies God’s love in the area around us.
You will be invited by our team to share your input about the interests, passions, assets and resources of our congregation. Because of many activities scheduled in the upcoming weeks, that will probably happen in early December. In the meantime, I invite and encourage you to be wondering, talking, and praying about what shape new community ministry might take for Central.