3 Reasons and Practical Ways for Churches to be Externally Focused

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by Tonya Nichols

Why?

Businesses and churches alike seem to struggle to simultaneously build infrastructure and grow outwardly to be externally focused. Focusing on infrastructure usually interferes with externally-focused efforts in sales and marketing (for businesses) or community outreach (for churches). It is understandable, often even necessary, for a business to shift focus from time to time. But outreach is a primary responsibility of a church. God does not call Christians to “seasons” of outreach ministry but rather to lives dedicated to Him and to reaching others. Without sustained, effective outreach, a church cannot fulfill its purpose and cannot survive.

There are 3 primary reasons to be outward focused:

  • Prepare People to Hear the Gospel - The underlying purpose of outreach is not just to meeting needs in the community, it is to build relationships to gain the trust to share the gospel of Christ.   The best place to share the love of Christ is to start with felt needs.  Because the spiritual, material, physical, financial emotional, intellectual and social needs of people in the community are so diverse, several different types of outreach programs are necessary.
  • Church Growth - Church outreach is also means to introduce people in the community to the church by making them aware of God’s love for them.  Outreach stimulates church growth by mobilizing members to minister to the un-churched.  Outreach is only a starting point for many people on their path to a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Churches must pick up where outreach ends, providing the worship, fellowship and discipleship opportunities to those they have reached out to.
  • Church Morale - Besides leading people to Christ and drawing people into the church, bringing healing and help to our communities, outreach encourages the church volunteer as well.  This is an important part of the process for growing disciples and fostering fellowship among believers.   Discipleship involves much more than training and education; it requires practical application.  A church goal of reaching out to the community in love and service, with the ultimate purpose of witnessing to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, will absolutely unify a congregation.

1. How do we measure outreach success?

The church simply cannot be effective without a priority placed on outreach ministry.  So why does outreach seem, so often, to either not be our focus or, despite our best efforts, not be very effective? Essentially, the challenge becomes finding the time and money necessary for effective community outreach.  But I believe, more often than not, the resources are there but the delivery systems are flawed.  We’re simply not making the best use of the time (energy and intentions) and money available to the church and its members.

The level of participation of church members in ministry, and the number of souls saved, are ultimate measures of the “fruit” of a church. Ask yourself  . . .

  • How many have been equipped and mobilized for ministry?
  • How any are fulfilling their life mission in the world?

This is the fruit of fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

2. How do we empower members/volunteers for effective and efficient outreach?

Today, many churches and ministries are using innovative, effective and inexpensive outreach programs.  While big events can be an expensive, like block parties that bring Christian churches in a community together to help those in need, they can also be landmark occasions for both the church and the community.  Support groups and classes on topics like marriage, child rearing, career planning, etc. require time but not much money.  Meet The Need minimizes the resources or effort traditionally required of the church. Meet The Need can mobilize church members to be ministers in the community directly and in very impactful ways.  Making an investment in community outreach is not optional; the only question is how to be most effective and efficient in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the un-churched in our communities.

3. How do we keep the balance of ministry and outreach needs? 

Churches must be cautious as to not have an inverse relationship between an emphasis on building buildings and building disciples. Many churches have ambitious building programs but often seem to lack ambitious discipleship processes and a bold message from the pulpit.  Maybe in those cases the attention has shifted so much internally, like the company that is overly focused on building infrastructure, that the church is not maintaining a reasonable “balance” across its purposes, under emphasizing evangelism and outreach ministry.  Understanding how to grow without building new buildings is a difficult question, but if you concentrate on building people, God will build the church.

How?

 

Check out our latest webinar, “Keeping an External Focus”, to see more outreach best practices.  Hear directly from Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX how they manage to stay externally focused throughout the year with the help of Meet The Need.

 

A Thankful Heart

Posted on November 27th, 2013 by Jill Aubin

During this season of praise, we at Meet The Need are so thankful to God for expanding our territory both geographically and in serving specific initiatives.  What a breakthrough year for Meet The Need!  The Lord has opened doors for us to partner with so many groundbreaking organizations.  Whether it be in Our Cities, Our Nation, or Our World, God has blessed Meet The Need with partners like you and we are truly grateful to be working with you!

In many Cities we have key partners who have seen great success uniting and mobilizing their cities using Meet The Need.  Whether it be engaging churches and ministries, involving city and county leadership, broadcasting resources, broadcasting city wide needs, or playing a key role in response efforts during a city wide disasters, these partners have exceeded our expectations!  We are thankful for you!

Across the Nation we have key partners tackling societal issues head-on. Solutions that we’ve developed to help churches, charities and businesses communicate more effectively are also badly needed in addressing social issues such as hunger, disaster relief, adoption/foster care, and grade-level literacy.  Non-profits addressing these issues have struggled with lacking technology to help them manage and communicate efficiently – until our partnerships were formed.  We are thankful for you!

World wide the interest is growing.  Groups who share our heart to unite and mobilize churches and charities to do more to serve those in need are rising to the challenge of launching Meet The Need nationally in Brazil, Canada and Australia.  We are thankful for you!

We are counting our many blessings and truly appreciate those that have contributed to our vision.  May God richly bless you all!

To read more about our partnerships - Click here

 

What Does Serving Others Do? Part 2

Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

What Does Serving Others Do?

Part 2

 

Serving Others Brings Unity

I believe that nothing blesses God more than when we are serving others together as the Body of Christ.  Most of us are familiar with Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth about the church being the Body of Christ having different members, yet being one, unified. (1 Corinthians 12).  Serving across typical denominational lines or even your own church’s normal ‘circle’ can push us out of our comfort zone, but is well worth it when we experience the blessing of  Psalm 133:1!

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  -Psalm 133:1

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   -John 13:34-35

Joe Shansi who served with 4KIDS of South Florida  said: “What a wonderful first-time experience (for me) for a great cause. What a great atmosphere to be working at an event with a group of volunteers with the spirit of God present.  I loved it, especially being able to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Other great testimonies of serving others in unity:

“We had a great crew of volunteers working at the store loading groceries as individuals and families shopped to help other families in need! It was really cool to work alongside other people from a variety of churches in our area! Yeah God!”

  • “My 13 year old son Matthew and I had so much fun on Sunday afternoon at ECHO. Such a great turnout and enthusiastic volunteers. It was truly a great feeling working side-by-side with not only our church’s volunteers but other churches’ members as well.”
  • “It was an amazing experience. So many people were there and we all worked together for God!”
  • “It was a great day of serving someone in need. I was amazed at what we accomplished in such a short period. Many hands make light work. I am so thankful to have been a part of being a blessing to someone else!”

Serving Others Encourages Serving

As mentioned in What Does Serving Others Do?  Part 1  I talked about how in serving you are changed because God made you to freely give and so a unique true need is also met in you.  I believe that this multiplies in us a desire to keep serving.  It doesn’t tire us out, but quite the opposite actually happens – we are regenerated and so have a desire and energy to serve more.  Serving becomes a “fill” for us, not a “drain” and takes the focus off of our problems and situation and allows us to see others and their needs.

Marci Evans, a member of Christ Church Plano in Plano, Texas who volunteered as part of the church’s outreach at Minnie’s Food Pantry said this about how serving others encourages more serving:  “My family had a wonderful experience and watched as our oldest daughter expressed genuine caring and generosity to others and her service. She is now asking to volunteer at Minnie’s Food Pantry to continue service to others.  Thank you to our church for opening our daughter Emily’s eyes to this need in our community.”

Other awesome testimonies on how serving others keeps giving:

  • “We mowed the lawn and trimmed all of the trees.  We were able to do some tree trimming for the neighbors as well. I met some nice people and it’s always fun to do something that benefits others.  Praise God for all of the chances to help.”
  • “I took a helper with me and he was really humbled by the experience. He mentioned to me that he would like to help more often.”

Asset Based Community Development

Posted on July 24th, 2013 by Maurice Jackson

Asset Based Community Development

“A large and growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development. Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.”

Meet The Need has traditionally focused on enable organizations to post and share needs with those who can help – overcoming those fundamental communication gaps remain core to our mission. At the same time, we recognize that our cities also have much to offer – assets that many others in the community did not know existed. So Meet The Need is increasing our focus on exposing those capabilities so cities can better leverage and build upon them.

What ABCD Means for You

1)  Post Specific Offers of Goods and Services You Have Available to See Where They’re Needed

On your Organizational Dashboard, there is now a new section (in the bottom left hand corner), called “Offers”. Organizational administrators can now quickly and easily:

  • Search all Local Offers
  • Post Offers
  • Edit and Update Offers they (or those associated with their organization) have made

You will also find offers if you’re posting a need and an offer has been made by someone who already has that skill or resource available.  In that case, you may choose to match with that offer rather than continuing to post the need.

2) Show a Directory of Service Providers across the Community

Meet The Need has also developed a customized directory solution for cities allowing for you to:

  • Show all of the services offered by organizations in your network on your web site!
  • Allow individuals to search on your web site by keyword, location or category for the services they need
  • Enable your network to create and edit their own directory listings
  • Have complete control over what organizations and services appears in your directory

Many city-reaching groups and state-wide or national associations have cultivated a network of resources, and would like to become a “one-stop-shop” for those in need. Our directory solution enables them to reach that goal, letting them organize and broadcast all skills and assets their network can offer to the local community. Check out some of our directory solutions below at ServeOK.org and Cornerstone Assistance Network.


Impact Your Community Through City Reaching

Posted on May 24th, 2013 by Maurice Jackson

What is City Reaching?

City reaching organizations are empowerment liaisons for churches, ministries, agencies, and community organizations throughout your city.

At Meet The Need we also use the term “Hub” to identify a City-reaching  organization. This means that the organization is a one stop shop for sharing resources and support to impact the greater community. City Reaching  organizations or “Hubs”  work by focusing on 5 major areas

  • Unite – Primary Purpose to connect churches, ministries and community organizations to serve their city
  • Equip – Provide Training and resources to assist agencies they serve
  • Empower – Offer services and resources to make serving others easier
  • Connect –  Help to connect those in need with city-wide agencies to receive help – Usually doesn’t offer service(s) to those in need
  • Engage – May plan large events for multiple organizations to serve together and opportunities to engage as one body to make a city-wide difference

Hubs don’t often post needs or support individuals directly but empowers the churches and ministries to post needs instead. This allows person to person contact and gives the organization the opportunity to create direct relationships with those in need and those who can meet needs in their city.

Hubs are go-getters! By communication through their web sites, lunches, webinars, meetings, and  one-on-one training, hubs are constantly sharing MTN to their network of ministries and especially to churches.

 

City Reaching Best Practices ..

3e McKinney and their partners have been using Meet The Need for over 2 years so there is much application and insight as to the best practices to achieve results.  Earlier  this month we talked to Debi Maerz, an administrative assistant at  3e McKinney and she went into depth about  the following, thus enabling more needs to be met and lives touched in the name of Christ.

  • shares Meet      The Need with their partners
  • empowers their      partners to serve together in large events
  • keeps      the momentum going for a lifestyle of service in McKinney, TX

Watch the webinar now to find out more about specific and practical best practices to make your city-reaching efforts easier, so you can transform your city to serve more.

 

Going beyond Churches and Community Organizations

Other city reaching initiatives focus on  multiple cities becoming a community hub for Schools.

A few weeks ago GoodCities hosted a webinar with Be|Undivided to talk about the churches role in supporting our public schools. This is a great way for hubs to show empowerment and to initate a multi-church event supporting the community.

What would it look like if 300,000 churches in our nation were serving all 100,000 of our public schools? Could that possibly change the educational outcomes of millions of the nation’s children? Could that break down walls that traditionally divide us socially and economically? Could that inspire entire communities to rally around their schools and their children, turning the page on the story of their lives, and, in turn, the lives of their children?

These are all questions that are the focus of Be|Undivided, a initiative that believes building strong community means making sure kids and schools thrive. Be|Undivided is churches investing time and effort year-round in students and schools. Whatever the need. And without agenda or strings attached. To learn more about BeUndivided Click Here to watch an informational video.

 

 

How to Roll out Meet The Need using Best Practices for your Church

Posted on February 12th, 2013 by Maurice Jackson

 Making a Connection by introducing Serving at your Church

A church deciding to use MTN as a means to organize and restructure the inner workings of their ministries have a great opportunity to change the culture of their church. MTN is a great tool to aid in the impact that churches and ministries have locally.  There are a few steps you should take to ensure that you’re using MTN to receive maximum benefits for your church,  your partners, and your members . With the launch of any type of program or new campaign you must first do research to see how you can incorporate your new idea into the current structure. This takes planning and communication within leadership to now decide what the roll out plan will be in your church.

With any church the vision flows from the senior or executive leadership down to the ministry/lay leaders, to now influence the congregation into action. Getting your senior leader to promote and become a strong advocate for your private-labeled MTN campaign is a great step towards introduction. This allows not only leaders to jump on board but also challenges followers to start serving.  The Senior Pastor can even launch into a sermon series that focuses on serving not only internally but externally and offering your campaign (MTN) as a solution.

       “Getting Plugged in”

Once your campaign is launched don’t let the focus disappear or just fall off the map. Incorporate your MTN campaign into the ongoing discipleship or membership process. You can have all new members go through individual registration and sign-up as a member of your organization. You can even go a step further and have a serving event be a part of a new members or leadership class. Doing this will now familiarize them with MTN and encourage them to find other avenues to serve in the community. This is  a great connector tool to connect people with opportunities  to use their spiritual gifts and talents.

                                                    “Shifting the Gears”

Now with your MTN campaign launched get your small /life groups involved. Have your small groups serve together on a regular basis. You can even create a small group that focuses on serving in the community.  This is a great way to incorporate MTN without changing the function or dynamic of the group. This is also a great way to break the ice by launching a new  small group around a serving event in order to get to know each other while making a difference.

“Promote It”

- As with anything promotion is key to making events/campaigns successful.

Make sure you print “visual reminders” to connect the campaign with an image. Bulletin boards and bullet inserts are great ways to keep your MTN campaign in everyone’s mind. Another great way to publicize MTN is by hosting a Missions’s fair. Give members the chance to see the need of the local community. This will allow them the opportunity to see what areas need the most support. All you have to do is invite all local ministries to your church and set up booths or tables for them to display their service or area of need. Now members can interact directly with representatives.

                                                                ”Share your Results”

                                                                -Highlight feedback from your experiences.

As your small groups and members serve take time to have them submit testimonials or reflections of their experiences. This is a great way to appeal to others who haven’t connected with an opportunity to serve. This is also a great way to keep leadership informed of the impact that the church is having and can merit them suggesting more focus to your campaign to the church.

With the correct steps taken to fully launch and implement MTN, you will be in a  position to let the system work for you with minimal upkeep. These are just a few key components to successfully launching a MTN serving campaign at your church. To see all 10 suggestions download the Top 10 Keys to Enliven You Church Through Serving document to see how you can increase your church’s efforts using MTN.

 

 

42 Churches

Posted on November 15th, 2012 by JMorgan

Mobilizing the Body of Christ in McKinney TX

3e McKinney was founded five years ago to mobilize the Body of Christ to bring care, hope and transformation to McKinney through a collaborative effort of many churches, faith-based entities, social agencies, businesses and individual volunteers to fulfill the Great Commission. Their name (3e) reflects their mission:

  • ENGAGE volunteers in short and long term community involvement
  • EQUIP volunteers to serve in love, grace and compassion
  • EMPOWER the under resourced to long-term self-sufficiency

Within 5 years, 3e has connected with and mobilized 42 churches throughout McKinney (a city of 135,000 just Northeast of Dallas). This connection has given churches a channel to coordinate externally focused efforts and resources (funds, time, people) into the community. The current Executive Director is a former Police Chief and retired City Manager. As you can imagine, this provides 3e a unique opportunity to connect local churches with needs in the public sector.

Like many city-reaching ministries, 3e has a small staff team–1 full time and two part time staff members. Yet, despite their small staff size, 3e is having a tremendous impact—in part, they believe, because they are leveraging Meet The Need to

  • stream line city-wide church collaboration,
  • increase their volunteer base and better communicate service opportunities,
  • build program/event effectiveness, and
  • understand who is being served (while avoiding service duplication).

3e McKinney relies heavily on the reporting features within Meet The Need to execute several city-wide events (and other ongoing ministry activities) each year. Each of these events involves multiple church and community partners and thousands of volunteers.

Adopt A School

12 churches within McKinney have adopted Title 1 schools within their district. 3e works to facilitate these relationships by building connections with public schools and churches in their neighborhood. 3e has recently engaged a retired school principal to spearhead this effort as a paid part time staff member. Many churches involved in this outreach use Meet The Need to post reoccurring needs for volunteer tutors, communicate with their volunteers, and on occasion to post needs for the families being served.

Clothe A Child

Just a few months ago, 20 churches and 5 high schools provided over 600 volunteers to serve 1,100+ children. Partnerships with other area nonprofits allowed 3e to identify low income families in need of   school clothing.  Families were registered to shop at Kohl’s (each receiving a $100 store voucher). Families received breakfast and shopped alongside a volunteer to find the best buys and bargains for their children. 3e used Meet The Need to schedule all of the families receiving assistance, create and fill multiple volunteer shifts at multiple times, and communicate regularly with their volunteer base leading up to and following the event.

Garage Giveaway

Twice a year, 20 churches get together to host an event that serves approximately 3,000+ members of the McKinney community. In the Spring and Fall, churches host an event that provides families with items they need free of charge. Alongside the garage giveaway, churches host a ministry fair that provides health screenings, haircuts, children’s games, food and entertainment. Meet The Need is used to schedule multiple volunteer shifts over a three-day time frame. MTN has allowed 3e to easily communicate volunteer needs with many churches and engage volunteers from throughout the community.

 

Meet The Need Reporting Makes the Job Easier

Staff at 3e uses Meet The Need’s reporting daily to keep an eye on how the churches they are connected with are impacting the city. They are able to see

  • How many people are serving and where they are coming from (what church they attend)
  • Where there is a volunteer shortage (shifts that aren’t full)—to reach out for help with specific needs
  • Quarterly and Annual activity for Board and Executive review
  • Unfilled family or ministry needs—which prompts a call that may lead to an understanding that the need has already been met (and not completed in MTN) or that there is still work to be done

3e has also been able to grow their electronic marketing efforts by exporting data and then importing/entering it into Constant Contact. This has allowed them to introduce new people to their mission and keep volunteers informed of other service opportunities (by including a MTN link in every eletter sent). MTN provides a neutral platform to share city-wide needs in a way that church members (despite geographical, denominational or cultural differences) can quickly and easily respond.

 

Community Leadership

3e McKinney is recognized as a community leader, in part because of their broad volunteer base. When school principals, city officials, and local nonprofits have a ‘job to be done’ they call 3e. MTN has provided a wonderful platform to quickly communicate city needs and engage willing church members to help. The city of McKinney views the Church as a leader in their community, a caring group of people ready and willing to make a difference, and an irreplaceable resource. Meet The Need is happy to be a part of it all!

To learn more about the work of 3e McKinney, EMAIL Debi Maerz or visit their WEBSITE. To hear Meet The Need’s most recent webinar about reporting, CLICK HERE.

Unifying a City in Service to the Poor

Posted on October 19th, 2012 by JMorgan

Shared Case Management: Moving Families Toward Healthy Self-sufficient Lifestyles

Unifying a city in service to the poor is no small task—and today’s economic climate and limited resources are making this challenge one that ministries and churches wrestle with daily. Avoiding service duplication, stewarding donated resource, and most importantly, moving families toward healthy self-sufficient lifestyles are critical components of a comprehensive city-wide approach to the issues of poverty. 

Shared Case Management systems can facilitate collaboration in how ministries and churches help families, but only if many agencies and churches will use the same system.  For example, churches do not typically have the budget to purchase case management systems nor the time to enter all of the data required by most of them. So Meet The Need developed a best-practice Shared Case Management platform that is now available at no cost to agencies and churches.  And Meet The Need does not require much data entry so that churches and ministries alike can be on a common platform.

Tampa Bay, Florida: A Region United

Tampa, Florida is no different than most mid-sized U.S. cities. Ten percent of the 2,400,000 people that make up the Greater Tampa Bay area are unemployed. Churches and nonprofits who are ‘in the trenches’ serving the poor are constantly burdened with the reality that the ‘line at the front door’ is longer than the ‘food in the pantry.’ Meet The Need has provided a unique resource to help ministries and churches throughout the Tampa Bay area address this issue and quickly share information to make better decisions about how to have the greatest impact on the community and in each family’s life.

Meet The Need connected the community during the 2011 holiday season in Tampa Bay in a way that revolutionized service delivery. An entire 3-county area was united in outreach to the poor, providing a model to the rest of the country. Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, YMCA, Metropolitan Ministries, public schools and area churches collaboratively served tens of thousands of families using Meet The Needs’ shared case management and scheduling system:

(1) equipped over 40 local churches to register families and distribute food and toys,

(2) engaged local public school teachers and guidance counselors to schedule children to receive food and toys.

(3) hosted a multitude of registration locastions and local ministries within a three-county radius staffed by volunteers all using Meet The Need, and

(4) jointly scheduled families on shared, access-controlled calendars to receive gifts at specific dates, times and locations

Using a shared platform across all those sites and organizations ensured that the same families were not booked to receive items at multiple locations. It also allocated families across various sites and time based on the number of volunteers available to distribute items and the number of items available to distribute. So there was no overbooking at various times and locations. Bar-coded sheets printed out through Meet The Need’s system were handed to each family, helping make sure everyone came to the right location at the right time and make “check in” very easy for staff.

At a very real and practical level, Meet The Need brings hope and help to people like Michelle. Michelle has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and approached her church with a request for some basic furniture items for her home and children. Michelle’s church was able to post her furniture need, and at the same time schedule her children to receive toys during the Toys for Tots drive coming up at Christmas.

A Framework for Collaboration and Referrals

Each city has a unique network of providers. Churches and ministries often serve slightly different constituencies. In Tampa, Meet The Need has provided a cohesive framework for collaboration and referrals. Service providers can quickly see who has most recently offered assistance to a family and where families are scheduled to receive help—so duplication is now minimized. And, as the spirit of collaboration has grown, churches and ministries now better understand where to send people if another agency could better meet a family’s needs.

Perhaps Karl Celestine, Director of Outreach & Prevention Services at Metropolitan Ministries, says it best,

“Meet The Need connects the community. Each provider has our own mission and focus. We all offer different things to those in need. Seeing what families have received from others allows us to put together a good case management plan to move them to self-sufficiency. As we all begin to unite in our service to others—including the local churches using Meet The Need—we can say we are not just ‘handing out aid’ but moving families to self-sufficiency.”

Shared Case Management Ebook

To learn more, download Meet The Need’s free Ebook on the topic by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Ways to Volunteer and Support your Community throughout the Holidays.

Posted on September 28th, 2012 by Maurice Jackson

 Galatians 5:13-14
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Some of our biggest spending occurs during the Holiday season. No matter how tight our budgets we often  find room to splurge. As many of us already know it’s not the amount we spend that makes our holidays eventful but the quality of our serving. Here are 4 ways to volunteer and support your community throughout the holiday that cost almost nothing.

1. Skip a Latte’ (or martini) for Charity.  Make a commitment to skip a latte’ (or your beverage or choice) once a week or more during the holidays.  Take the savings and donate to a local nonprofit or a cause you care about.  With 12 weeks left ’till Christmas, you could easily save $60 or more.  $60 would make a big difference to hungry families and kids without books and medicine here or abroad. Recruit your friends and coworkers to pledge to Skip a Latte’ too, and see what kind of impact you can make together.

2. Create a Caring Circle Calendar for a Relative.  Rake leaves, shovel snow, prepare a meal, or visit for coffee — these are simple gestures that can make a world of difference for relatives during the holidays (and throughout the year).

3. Stick Close to Home
Many charities have volunteer jobs which can be done from home. These jobs range from creating flyers to advertising special events hosted by the charity to creating gift baskets of food or clothing for needy families. This type of volunteer opportunity permits your whole family to participate in the fun, but requires very little travel or time set aside for the project. Contact local charity organizations and see what they need help with. These opportunities will allow your entire family to be involved, including small children.

3. Scour Your Neighborhood
Many times, members of your neighborhood may be in need of assistance. Consider whether any elderly, handicapped or other needy individuals live in your area and if you could somehow bring them joy over the holidays. Perhaps you could invite the needy individuals over to your house for a meal or bring them a meal that your family cooked together. Another great idea is to help decorate a senior citizen’s home with Christmas lights. This activity will be fun for you and your children and make the recipient smile. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered cookies when you return to take the lights down after the holidays.

 

Launch Year-round ministry partnerships this Holiday season

Posted on September 17th, 2012 by JMorgan

The Dallas Baptist Association offers advice

Meet The Need partner, the Dallas Baptist Association (DBA), focuses on leadership development, evangelism, church planting, and family and community ministry. Founded in 1903, DBA now serves over 500 churches and ministries throughout the Greater Dallas area.

As we approach the holiday season, I talked with Jana Jackson, Director of Family and Community Ministries, to gather insight and ideas about using the Holiday season as a catalyst for ministry partnerships throughout the calendar year.

 

How can ministries and churches use the upcoming Holiday season as a spring board for ongoing collaboration and ministry impact?

The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with others in your city because everyone is more motivated. Both churches and ministries are hosting events and serving families. There is an incredible opportunity to build relationships that will last into the coming months if you are strategic about it.

A few years ago a wealthier suburban church in the Dallas area got connected with a church in a high-poverty urban community during the holiday season. Both pastors took this as an opportunity to learn from each other and build a true partnership that is growing stronger by the day. Both congregations recognized that they needed each other. The value of cross-cultural friendships, Christian community development and the personal growth among church members can’t be measured. Both churches seized the few months surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas as an opportunity to build a deep ministry partnership and personal friendship.

I also want to emphasize that we need to be prayerful about how our Holiday ministry is designed so that the dignity of families can be honored and the Gospel shared.  Two good books to read regarding this are When Helping Hurts, by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton.

 

What has DBA found to be the ‘key’ to maintaining momentum amongst member churches throughout the calendar year?

We rely heavily on prayer. We have been convicted, even recently, that we need to pray first, wait with an attitude of discernment, and then move. Unfortunately, so often things seem to move in the opposite direction—we get a ‘great idea’ and ask God to bless us.

As a DBA staff we seek to respond to how God is leading us to serve our churches.  We pray for our churches at the beginning of every work day.  We also pray Luke 10:2 as a staff frequently, and we’ve seen God answer that prayer by sending workers into the harvest field. 

An attitude of prayerful response to the Lord’s leadership brings much more “momentum” than if we as an organization are trying to push our own agenda and simply hope that the Lord will bless it, and the churches will support it.

That said, we also make every effort to maintain regular communication via personal conversations, on-site visits to our churches, email, and social media.  Also, keeping the website, including the service opportunities on our Meet the Need “CityServe” site, fresh, is helpful.

 

If you could recommend one critical communication strategy to unite and inform churches and ministries in the Association (and other organizations like yours throughout the US)—what would it be?

Know your God-given mission—everything you do should fit your mission. Our mission statement at DBA is: “Dallas Baptist Association exists to assist our churches individually and cooperatively in fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.” We serve our churches as they fulfill the Great Commission, and that’s what unites us. And, we do our best to remind ourselves and our member churches of this whenever we can. It keeps us all focused!

Related to this, it is crucial that all of our staff work as a team to accomplish our mission.  Our executive director, Bob Dean, does a phenomenal job of leading us as a team.  When our churches take note of this, and they have, it inspires confidence that we really can do more by working together as an association.

In order to inform our churches about what’s happening within the context of that mission, we use every communication method available to us. Some of our pastors and church leaders really enjoy our Facebook page. We hire a social media consultant from time to time to keep us on track with latest trends and best-practice.

Additionally, we consistently get about 30-40 percent “opens” on our weekly e-newsletter, which is higher than the industry average.  Some people want to find everything they need on our website. Others simply want to pick up the phone and call one of our staff when they want to know something. 

 

As you build ministry partnerships with others throughout your community in the coming months, we hope you’ll find Jana’s insights encouraging. Keep pressing on toward unity and collaboration in all you do. If you’d like to learn more, visit DBA’s website, email Jana, subscribe to Jana’s blog, or contact us.