Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Connecting Faith, Heritage and Community

Last night the Baptist Temple staff and a few lay leaders were introduced to a program by the Partners for Sacred Places. This a national network of expert professionals who understand the value of a congregation’s architectural assets, its worth as a faith community, and the significance of its service to the community at large.

We learned, last night, that 93% of urban churches serve as community centers, hosting and/or providing a variety social service programs. Moreover, 81% of the people served by urban congregations are non-members.

The local Presbytery (Baptists would say association) is funding a training program for San Antonio to assist historic houses of worship to remain sustainable through preservation and community development. We were invited to one of eight churches in this cohort.

This intensive training program, called New Dollars/New Partners. gives congregations with older buildings the skills and resources to broaden their base of support. Over a period of one year congregations will learn to speak...

The language of abundance: Asset Based Community Development
The traditional approach to community assistance has been to provide resources from outside the community while ignoring the talent and resources within the community itself. However, real change comes from the inside out. Understanding the relationships, talent base and business and institutional assets that already exist will create a sustainable environment in which a church can thrive.

The language of economy: public value and the economic halo effect
Urban churches provide a quantifiable value to the community. They provide services that would otherwise need to be provided by the government or someone else. Seventy five percent of urban congregations host outside groups, rent free. Urban churches log an average 5300 volunteer hours per year. Remember, 81% of the beneficiaries are people from the community who are not members of the church.

The language of heritage: the case statement
Every congregation has stories to tell of significant ministry during the depression, the civil rights movement, Viet Nam and other important eras. The congregation has a “brand” that has been developed through these ministries. The case statement answers the questions of “Why should I care,” and “Why should I give?”

The language of investment: sources of funding
Most funding for thriving urban churches comes from individual gifts. The congregation will account for 39%, while other individuals account for 24%. These other individuals include former members and people interested in either helping that particular community or preserving that particular building.

Grants, including government, private and corporate, account for 22% of funding. Significant but not as big as individual gifts.

Fund raisers account for a comparatively unimportant 6%, but when viewed as friend raisers, they connect you with potential individual donors.

One source of funding that is not mentioned but can be significant is earned income that goes beyond the fund raiser. Such sources of earned income include space rental (including parking), day care and other services, and sales of books and CDs. For some churches this can produce as much as 40% of their income.

I look forward to the coming year and learning how to better steward the Kingdom resources with which we have been intrusted and using them to help people find spiritual and physical healing in our Lord Jesus.

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