Updated: Oct 15, 2018
One of the questions that comes up regularly when I am consulting with churches or mentoring church leaders is "How do we reach our local community?" The short answer is not by copying another church's strategy that may work well in that location. So the starting place is "Who is our community, and what do we have to offer?" The process I used for a recent consultancy was:
Conduct an environmental scan through interviews with community leaders and service providers (churches and non-profits), study of demographics (Use Quickstats search for suburb or postcode http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Census?OpenDocument&ref=topBar) and other community research from local Councils. Find out what the needs are and which needs are most unmet.
Undertake a strengths assessment of your church. A simple survey is fine, with some opportunity for open responses. As far as possible you want a breadth of engagement. This avoids the “outsourcing” of mission to a few people, because mission is the responsibility of the whole church.
Honing of (1) through the following filters (some of which overlap):
· What is preventative/proactive, not merely reactive?
· What will lead to a breadth of community engagement for the church?
· Which problems are the most widespread in the community and most unmet (gaps in service provision)?
· What is the execution risk/complexity to setup and run? What specialisation is required or is this ministry readily open to appropriate volunteers? What training will be required?
· In what ways can this build on strengths/what already exists? Diversifying can be good but it often means starting from scratch - a more integrated response builds on existing goodwill and relationships.
If you would like some assistance clarifying who your local community is, and the connecting points and strengths within your congregation, please get in touch with me through the website contact form.