This week, we continue to explore the relationship between our congregations and our communities.

Tim Soerens from the Parish Collective invites us to consider how our neighborhoods may teach our churches about the dream of God in the world. Jonathan Brooks’s church in inner-city Chicago changed the way that they engaged with their neighbors, which changed how they think about their mission in the neighborhood. And finally, John Perkins challenges us to find and support leaders for our communities within our communities — leaders who may have been traditionally overlooked. 

After months when our church buildings have sat virtually empty, we may now have a better understanding of what ministry in our own communities might be. 

Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are

Where is the church on a Tuesday afternoon?

“We’re on a campaign to say that we think that God is reorganizing the church around the neighborhood. I think that [the pandemic] is going to accelerate that. … How we pay attention to what God is up to in our actual places will be more important than ever.” – Tim Soerens

Tim Soerens is encouraging congregations to develop a keen attentiveness to what God may be doing in their neighborhoods and then join in those efforts. In this interview with Faith & Leadership, Soerens describes how to do that and why he believes that “the parish is the unit of change.”


Sometimes the church needs to follow and partner with others

Jonathan Brooks found himself living a hyperlocal life where he lived, worked, ministered and participated in one community. That commitment to place changed how he understood his own ministry and the ministry of his church. As he says, “Our church was meant to be not only loving our neighbors but loving our neighborhood.”

Resources to respond to the coronavirus

John Perkins: Empowering communities

John Perkins: Empowering communities

The future leaders of America’s poor communities are likely to be the people living in those communities, says civil rights advocate and pastor John Perkins. He should know. He’s spent the last five decades identifying, supporting, and equipping those leaders.

From the Alban Library

Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Well-Being

by Matt Bloom

Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Well-Being

Pastoral work can be stressful, tough, demanding, sometimes misunderstood, and often underappreciated and underpaid. Ministers devote themselves to caring for their congregations, often at the expense of caring for themselves. Studies consistently show that physical health among clergy is significantly worse than among adults who are not in ministry. Flourishing in Ministry offers clergy and those who support them practical advice for not just surviving this grueling profession, but thriving in it.

Matt Bloom, director of The Flourishing in Ministry project, shares groundbreaking research from more than a decade of study. The Flourishing in Ministry project draws on more than five thousand surveys and three hundred in-depth interviews with clergy across denominations, ages, races, genders, and years of practice in ministry. It distills this deep research into easily understandable stages of flourishing that can be practiced at any stage in ministry or ministry formation. 

Before you go…

Several years ago, I worked with a group of congregational leaders who had made it a practice to begin their meetings by having each person offer a “God sighting,” naming a place in their life or work where they had glimpsed the work of the Divine since they were last together. They found that beginning that way changed everything that followed. 

So what is God up to in your neighborhood? Perhaps you want to ask before your next leadership team, staff, or colleague group meeting. It might just change the meeting — and your congregation. 

Until next week, peace!

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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