By Steve Matthews
Keeping Congregations Connected is a series on strategies and tools for helping congregations survive and thrive in the face of the COVID crisis.
Click here for the previous post.
Last week, Mary Frances, Senior Associate Consultant with FaithX, wrote a blog encouraging churches to continue to think about outreach time. It can feel scary and maybe even premature to think about reaching out to our neighbors and inviting them into our faith communities again; but as Mary pointed out, the limitations of COVID-19 are challenging us to find new avenues of faithfulness – even with regard to outreach in a time of quarantine and social distancing.
FaithX can help. As experienced church planters and church redevelopers, we have learned to think strategically and creatively. We also see great value in “trying things on” to see what practices and experiments might work.
One tool of great value to faith communities right now is a free COVID-19 resource available through our affiliate, Datastory (click here for the link as well as other COVID19- resources). With this tool you can identify populations in your neighborhood at greatest risk. What connections and possibilities might emerge for outreach time if your church hosted an online session using this free resource and invited your church leaders as well as leaders from other neighborhood faith communities and nonprofits? This creates the possibility for collaborative ministry as well as building important relationships in the neighborhood.
The data provided by MapDash for Faith Communities can also help you locate local opportunities for ministry that you may not know existed. I did a 1 mile search in my neighborhood for churches (dark blue), nursing homes (light blue), and child care centers (red) and found more churches and organizations than I could have imagined (and I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years).
While I can’t enter these buildings right now, what is the opportunity for outreach and/or collaboration with these organizations? Certainly the staff needs support and encouragement that my faith community can provide. Are they in need of some resource that my faith community might rally around? What about delivering some hand picked flowers from my yard? The investment of time and energy don’t have to be large. What matters is that even now we encourage a mindset that is geared toward outreach time and that we invest in creative and sincere expressions of God’s love to our community.
This blog post is part of an ongoing series. Future posts may include:
- CDC Social Vulnerability Scales and Other Tools and Strategies to Locate Vulnerable Neighborhoods and Populations
- Things your congregants can do to create a sense of community with their own neighbors and neighborhoods.
- Tools and strategies for hosting online fellowship.
- Tools and strategies for facilitating online bible study and formation.
- Tools and strategies congregations can use to locate and reach populations most vulnerable to COVID19.
- Tools and strategies by which judicatories can resource their congregations.
- Before You Go Back to the Building: Tools and Strategies to Prepare You for the Aftermath and Recovery.
Want to help your congregation more effectively engage the neighborhoods it serves?
Those who engage a full Neighborhood Missional Assessment or other consultative program from FaithX will receive a complete NMIR in interactive (dynamic HTML) format.
Important Note: A Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Report can also be a useful tool for identifying the prevalence of at risk groups within your membership and ministry areas, and a Neighborhood Missional Assessment can help you identify the neighborhoods where they are most prevalent.
We have reduced the cost of NMIRs and NMAs by 10% for the duration of the COVID19 pandemic.
Want to help your judicatory identify emerging missional opportunities and challenges within its boundaries?
Click here to schedule a demo/discussion
of MapDash for Faith Communities
for Strategic Missional Planning
Important Note: In the days ahead Datastory will be adding COVID-related data to MapDash to all current and future subscribers (including incidence of COVID-19, hospital locations and capacity, Twitter feeds, location of doctors).
FaithX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Ken’s faith-based consulting practice at FaithX is carried out under an extension of ministry from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.