Wednesday, April 08, 2009

pondering community ministry

After listening to someone on Tuesday share about their sense of call to work more intentionally with our local Waltham community and their desire to be well integrated with Opawa and our growing community vision, I penned the following.

As a church, we occupy a unique space in terms of community development. While we can not necessarily provide professional social work, we are able to offer networks, relationships, generations and Christian spirituality.

This suggests that community ministry to families could include a focus on values including
– intentional partnerships with existing agencies
– opportunities for volunteers to offer community service,
– the offering of whole of life discipleship, drawing on resources found lifegiving in the Christian tradition
– the encouraging of intergenerational community relationships

This could be structured in a bureau type format, with a focus not on programmes, but on people. Specifically, the linking of volunteers with selected families, initially short term in crisis and longer term in whole of life coaching and relationships.

Potential ministries that might provide bridges over which volunteers and families meet could include foodbank, budgetting, Kingdom banking, support and discussion groups (addictions, divorce, parenting, grandparenting), youth programmes, holiday programmes, meals for community building and healthy eating, early childhood education, intergenerational events that build whanua and practises of healthy living including parenting, eating, conflict resolution and spirituality.

Such a ministry could be staffed by an order of voluntary community-focused chaplains. (Currently I can name 5 people at Opawa who are starting to function like this.) To be a community chaplain will involve a (annual, renewable) yearly commitment to
– serve with specific local ministry opportunities
– grow through 1-1 spiritual direction
– integrate by group gatherings with the other “community chaplains” for Scripture and encouragement and prayer
– learn with regular input regarding skills needed to care well. These are open to any and all.

The hub will be administered by a (paid part-time) manager, who will
– co-ordinate safe and appropriate linkages between
– maintain the values, especially the priority of relationships over programmes
– communicate and network with Opawa church and existing community groups
– ensure the bridges are put in place between families and chaplains
– develop the order of community chaplains
– seek funding

Posted by steve at 03:47 PM

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