By Megan Ginn

Growing up, my family was highly involved in church. I learned from a young age that caring for others was a part of being a Christian—volunteering on serve days, annual mission trips, donating old belongings.

By the time I was a teenager these were routine for me…it was what a good Christian does. However, I wondered if it was more about what we did or the impact we had. Was following Jesus more about me serving or less people hurting?

I sincerely believe churches care about the impact we have, but that changing lives is a lot more complicated than we are often prepared for. So, what does it look like for churches (and other faith-based organizations) to truly have an impact when serving others?

Here are three resources that show we change lives when we:

 

1. LISTEN

For nonprofits and churches, our metric for success can often be the quality of programs we offer, number of attendees, and our ability to raise funds. And yet, Rev. Mike Mather celebrates his church doing less. For him success isn’t measured by the amount of activities but by lives being changed. In this article, read an excerpt from Rev. Mike Mather’s book about how listening to the community changed not only the lives of his neighbors, but the lives in his church as well.

“Now the script was flipped; we were asking for a different story. And different stories emerged. Slowly at first, but then they began pouring out.”

2. COLLABORATE

As their neighborhood was changing, First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio realized holistically loving their neighbors required different knowledge and skills than they had. Through collaborative partnerships with nonprofits, they began to tackle the root causes of what kept their neighbors in poverty and homelessness. In this article by the Chalmers Center, find out more about how nonprofit and church collaboration leads to greater impact.

“I think there was an attitude that Christians should just give food away. I argue that true compassion is caring about someone’s future”

3. SEEK MUTUAL TRANSFORMATION

While many people start with identifying needs, Jay Van Groningen starts with finding the gifts. What if transformation could begin when we pay attention to the resources, talents, and gifts already present? What if instead of asking what’s wrong, we asked about the dreams others have? Jay Van Groningen, a leading ABCD (asset based community development) expert and current Board Secretary at Great Lakes Urban shares in this podcast how churches can use those principles to change lives.

“If I can’t tap into someone’s dream, I have nothing to work with. So, I need to take whatever time it takes to discover what is a realistic dream.”

 

While stories of success like these are inspiring, they can also be intimidating. Yet each person started with just a small step.

Want to know how your church can be a part of changing lives? Reach out to us on our Contact page to start a conversation.