A year or so ago, I went to a meeting at my local church. It was a meeting to discuss the possibility of running a project or ministry in our town, which was something I very much wanted to support. I can’t remember exactly how the discussion unfolded, but we the idea of starting a foodbank quickly took centre stage: how might we do it, what would we need, were there other churches we could invite to join with us. And then, maybe an hour or so into the discussion, someone at the back put up their hand and asked:
“Do we know if the town actually needs a foodbank?”
And we all paused, realising that we didn’t, actually know; that we hadn’t, actually thought about the needs of our community, even in our eagerness to serve it.
This is all too easy to do, sometimes, when thinking about what we can do to serve, or how we can help people: we consider what we’re used to doing, what other people and churches are doing, what we’ve always done, where funding is available and what it’s available for, and so on, more than we consider what people really need, and then – what do we already have that might be able to help meet that need.
This is a short film that some colleagues of mine made – and I just love what Mbairodbbee says at the start:
“God has already given us resources, in our family, in our church, in our community.”
It’s a great reminder. In fact the whole video, and the stories I hear coming back from these church and community mobilisation processes all around the world is a huge challenge and inspiration to me, as I think about how to inspire and support the church in the UK to do likewise. You can see a lot more of them if you search for church mobilisation resources on integralmission.net – and find out more about church and community mobilisation, a process that helps churches to ask just these questions:
- What does my community need?
- What resources do we already have?
Before Christmas I wrote about some of the work that we’ve been doing with churches in the UK. We current have grants available for churches who want to get involved in serving their communities – but these grants are a little bit different. They’re not grants of money – they’re grants of time: support and advice from our team of Church & Community Catalysts, and access to training and resources, all of which can help your church answer those questions and start helping to transform your community. You can find out more and apply on the Tearfund website.