Many of the people I engage with who work/volunteer in community development with a Church speak of feeling isolated and often like second-class citizens within the life of the congregation.
Pastors and leaders are often really good at giving permission for community development endeavors for those who are passionate about this work in the Church. I would like to suggest, however, that giving permission does not equate to blessing.
For this reason I thought I would suggest 3 simple ways of supporting your community development workers to feel like they are central to the life and ministry of your congregation:
- Ask what celebrating this ministry would look like.
Make a practice of regularly asking those who support and coordinate your community ministry what is needed for them to feel like this ministry is a vital and celebrated ministry of this congregation. Of course don’t just ask- follow through.
- Change your language.
A pastor I know has described it like this: when a new child is born to a family the language and appearance of the family changes (all future family photos include the new baby; future family cards are signed including the new babies’ name etc). So too when a new ministry is birthed from a Church the language and appearance of the Church should also be altered to include this significant new member. Be conscious then that your Church publications, your visuals, your spoken communication reflect this ministry.
- Consider the titles you afford
If all of your other ministry leaders (children, youth, pastoral care) are given a certain title then by giving your community ministry leader a different title you are communicating that they have a different (and lesser) value in the life of the Church.
I hope these little tips can help Pastors and church leaders to feel more empowered to celebrate community ministries and those who lead them.
Are you in community ministry and feeling isolated in your Church setting (or alternatively are you feeling highly celebrated)? How else would you like to be supported by your senior leadership?