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Exploring Social Enterprise as a Way Forward

We often see churches with fairly well-maintained buildings that are used a couple of hours a week. Often these churches are in communities that are diverse in various ways; and often these churches have a homogeneous membership that has been declining, and they find it challenging to connect with their diverse neighbors.

I invite you to consider a way forward, which requires the following steps:

  • Listen to your neighbors, but dont ask them "what do you need;" Ask them: "what are your dreams and aspirations?" "what do you feel passionate about?"

        This is the foundation of Asset-Based Community Development - https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/Pages/default.aspx

        There are various models churches use to take this step. Whatever model you use, make sure  you come with a respectful listening attitude, willing to hear how God is already active in that community, and how God has already gifted that community with dreams and gifts to transform it in what they want it to be. 

You can read about how Broadway UMC in Indianapolis developed a model of listening called "Roving Listeners" here: https://www.faithandleadership.com/death-and-resurrection-urban-church

Centenary UMC in Macon has also adapted this model to their context. You can read about it here:  http://www.sgaumc.org/newsdetail/centenary-umc-s-roving-listeners-l...

  • Join in to what God is already doing and consider using the church building to develop a social enterprise that is born out of what people in the community is passionate about, and that will have a social impact. A social enterprise is a business that generates revenue but it has as its main goal to have a social impact in the community. Also, social enterprises have the potential of becoming self-sustaining.

Read about a pastor who started a social enterprise here: https://www.faithandleadership.com/matt-overton-why-i-started-socia....

  • To learn more about how to develop a social enterprise, I invite those of you who are participating in this year's School of Congregational Development, to register for the workshop: Social Enterprise as an Opportunity for Ministry and Sustainability.This workshop will be facilitated by Jeff Woodward.

    Jeff R. Woodward, is a lawyer in Atlanta. He helped develop the firm’s Start-up and Entrepreneurial practice. He is a frequent mentor and judge in start-up and business plan competitions and works with a number of business programs. Mr. Woodward is a founding board member of Village Capital, an international accelerator program and investment fund for seed-stage social enterprises. In addition, he has more than 20 years of experience advising private foundations and public charities on a variety of matters.

    Mr. Woodward is a frequent speaker and panelist on issues related to entrepreneurs, investors and social enterprise. He has founded two non-profit companies, Community Redevelopment Inc. (now known as HouseProud) and the Atlanta Community Toolbank. He also serves on the board of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, and the board of the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech.

You can find it in the schedule under DISCIPLE 12 on Friday August 18th at 2:00 pm.

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Tags: Hispanic, Latino, church, low-income, ministry, minitry, multicultural, new, planting, poor, More…rural, the, urban, with

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