Connections for Ministry – Best Practices

Leaders Helping Leaders One Idea at a Time

Table of Contents: First Pueblo missional initiatives team (1/14/13); Faith CS membership covenant (3/14/13)

Submitted 1/14/13

What do you call the project / program / initiative? (no more than one line)

Missional Initiatives Team

Context for ministry: briefly describe your church and community (100 words or less)

First Presbyterian Church (Pueblo, Colorado) is a 600 member congregation (average worship of 300) with a median age in the decade of the 60’s or 70’s and a robust crew of 80’s and 90’s!  Located in an impoverished area in downtown Pueblo  (population: 120,000), we are centrally located in Pueblo the city, although much of the county’s growth is to the far west.  As a community, Pueblo tends toward the blue-collar: a steel mill, a state hospital and seven call centers provide much of the community’s economic backbone.  Pueblo is majority Hispanic with a large catholic presence among its churches.

Summary / Overview of the project / program / initiative (1500 words or less)

(What did you do? What happened in your church and community?)

The Session, in conversation with the mission committee, created an initiative in which the church would set aside 25% of its mission budget (with the pledge that any unspent dollars will be given as Christmas gifts to other ministries) in order to encourage, recruit, promote and implement missional ministry initiated by members of the congregation.    We seek for each missional initiative to conform to five values that create missional ministry: (a) community based, (b) service oriented, (c) person to person, (d) creating community, and (e) building bridges back to the church. The process that is followed looks like this:

  • A member(s) submits an MIT application (see below).
  • The mission committee reviews the application and assigns one of its members to discuss the committee’s evaluation with the application’s author(s).
  • Conversation continues between the mission committee and applicant until either (a) the application is approved as is, (b) modified sufficiently to accept or (c) politely refused.

The application seeks to follow a reflection-action-reflection model toward the goal of creating a process that is dynamic and which facilitates learning and growth in ministry effectiveness, relational faithfulness and deepened spirituality among our church members and within the community. The complete application asks the following questions:

Project Summary

  • Briefly describe your project:
  • What is / are the scripture verse(s) which convey your project’s heart and soul?
  • Briefly describe the “prayer preparation” game plan: who will pray, when and toward what purposes?

What are the project’s measurable goals?

  • Number of participants on the leadership team: ________
  • Number of participants from our church you hope will be involved: ________
  • Number of participants from the community you hope will be involved: ________

Describe how your project connects to MIT evaluative criteria:

  • Community-based: how is the program located outside of the walls of our church?
  • Service-oriented: how does the program require Christians to serve others, and is the program of benefit to the community?
  • Person-to-person: how does the project require Christians to contact, connect and cultivate interactions with other people?
  • Community-creating: how does the program lead to the sharing of one’s life with another?
  • Building Bridges Back: how does the program offer to those involved a way to connect back to the faith community?

Please list the project expenses (be as specific as you can):

How much are you requesting from the Missional Initiatives Team?

Briefly describe your post-project game plan for reflection and report back to the MIT: when will you gather as a leadership team and/or community to discuss insights, challenges and how the project affected your faith.

Person making this request: _____________________________________ Date: __________

Contact number: ______________________ Contact email: ___________________________

In the first year of the initiative, the missional initiatives have been a smorgasbord of long-term commitments, short-term projects and one-off events.  The complete list of our first year initiatives, or those that are in the planning stages, is as follows:

Completed Projects

  • G-L.I.F.E. Outreach – provides monthly meals for and with youth involved in a gang prevention ministry.
  • CSUP Outreach Concert – sponsored the musical duo Brad and Rebekah on behalf of the student ministry groups on the CSU-Pueblo campus.
  • FriendlyHarbor Outreach – built planter boxes and conducted landscaping for and with the clients of a drop-in center, located near the church, for persons with mental illness.

Getting Started

  • YAFA Mentoring – launching a 1 to 1 mentoring program with students at the Youth and FamilyAcademy.
  • GED Tutoring – launching a partnership with Pueblo Community College and two other churches to provide tutoring in the county jail as well as follow-up support upon release.
  • Migrant ID’s – working with Sister Nancy and the LosPobresCenter to provide identification cards to members of the migrant community.

On the Drawing Board

  • CommunityGarden – seeking a downtown location to create a community garden for and with those living in the neighborhood that surrounds the church.
  • Signing Ministry – seeking to build a community of folks competent in sign language who can offer American Sign Language at our worship services.

What are you learning about missional ministry? (500 words or less)

Our first job was to educate and inspire the congregation toward missional action.  Beyond the educational learning curve of helping people define “missional,” we struggled to capture folks’ imagination for “missional initiatives.”  A turning point came for us when we framed the conversation in terms of folks’ spiritual gifts and passion: where is your deep joy and giftedness connecting with a deep need in our community?  The language of spiritual gifts and passion unlocked folks’ understanding and ignited their imagination.

As the missional initiatives campaign was launched, we quickly learned the need for constant communication with the congregation.  It is an on-going, uphill battle to interpret to folks the meaning of being missional, the purpose of these initiatives, the process of writing a grant for a missional initiative and what others in the congregation are doing to be missional.  We are learning the importance (necessity, really) of celebrating the wins we have.

As we continue to interpret the meaning of missional, we have further gleaned an insight regarding the difficulty some folks have embracing all five missional values.  For instance, a men’s ministry idea of sponsoring Tim Tebow to speak in Pueblo with money raised used to benefit the local food ministry was service oriented but did not create community.  Other ideas were located in the church building rather than the community or created community but neglected building a bridge back to the church, etc.  Indeed, the most difficult value is the one where we insist there be some act – written or verbal – in which people are invited to participate in the Lord’s community, the church!

An impression that is strengthening among the mission team’s leadership is the importance of acting in community rather than isolation.  The strongest ideas, and the initiatives that have borne fruit in action, are the ideas birthed among small groups: of friends, covenant groups, ministry teams and fellowships gatherings.  The applications that have needed the most follow-up conversation between the mission committee and the applicant are almost always the applications that have come from individuals.  We are learning that there is wisdom in the Body of Christ.

Finally, we are also learning the gift – albeit a difficult gift to embrace – of saying no to some missional initiative ideas.  There have been a couple of instances in which folks have come forward seeking dollars for projects that were not missional or simply not workable.  Although uncomfortable, the conversations that followed the mission committee’s decision not to fund a project have created opportunities for substantive dialogue and a deepening of perspective on the nature of being missional.

Submitted 3/14/13

The Membership Covenant

Our Promise to You

  • Worship that glorifies God, edifies Christians, and is hospitable to non-Christians
  • Spiritual care through congregational support
  • Fellowship opportunities to develop relationships with other people in the church or to invite your friends who have no church home
  • Education that deepens your biblical and theological understanding and that you can apply to your life
  • Service opportunities to put your faith into action

Your Promise to Us

  • Acting in love toward other members, attenders, and visitors
  • Discerning and living your vocation as a disciple of Jesus Christ throughout your life
  • Finding ways to serve God through FaithChurch
  • Praying for the leadership and those who attend FaithChurch
  • Financially supporting FaithChurch, including my annual per capita ($30.45 in 2011)
  • Providing constructive feedback through appropriate channels to the leadership of the church and supporting the decisions made by leaders at FaithChurch
  • Faithfully attending worship
  • Participating in my growth as a disciple of Christ
  • Other:

Because we believe the Holy Spirit has led us to this place, we covenant with one another as God’s children living in community as Faith Presbyterian Church. By the power of that same Spirit, we promise to fulfill our side of the covenant, and to pray for and encourage our covenant partners to fulfill their side of the covenant. We enter into covenant this day, and will revisit our membership covenant in __________ months (6-12 recommended).

Member ____________________ Date:

Dr. Tom Trinidad, Pastor ____________________ Date:

Elder serving on Session ____________________ Date:

Sponsor ___________________ Date:

 
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