CCIC Featured Project: From Charity To Change
The faith community is a potential force for massive social change – yet it is often fragmented, operating in silos, and desperately needing to align and integrate its efforts with the wider community. In New York City alone there are over 8,500 places of worship, and more than 35,000 nonprofits in the city employ more than 600,000 people. Yet, as is the case across America, most of these churches and nonprofits work independently, often unaware of each other and often attempting to reach the same children and families in need.
Over the past two years, Openfields and Leadership Foundations have worked closely with Redeemer City to City (CTC) to develop an innovative training program to help church planters, rising church leaders, and church collaboratives reimagine how congregations can invest in long-term community change. Now, through the Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center, we are further developing the program with a diverse group of New York City leaders and poised to distribute it through the LF network and beyond.
The vision for this project is for churches, independently and collectively, to employ or support community-based “Routers” as a means of accomplishing collaborative, integrative ministry for the renewal of their surrounding communities. We call this program From Charity to Change.
We envision congregations and church-based collaborations that:
- Understand the real, systemic needs of their community, and have deep relationships and data to show it;
- Are equipped with a robust theology for understanding culture and institutions through the lens of identity, vocation, work, and mission;
- Can articulate their unique and long-term role in serving the common good of their neighborhood with a community-based vocation;
- Move existing charity and volunteer efforts from ad hoc service projects toward strategic plans for long-term systemic impact; and
- Serve as a community hub for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and service.
We are currently customizing the content into an actionable, scalable process, and piloting the implementation of this model – such as neighborhood and congregational asset-mapping, and strategic planning for measurable impact – in the boroughs of New York City. We are also designing additional tools and activities to support these efforts while developing case studies for training guides, workshop videos, and various online platforms.
The overwhelmingly positive response this program has generated underscores the urgent need, as well as the opportunity, to scale this across the United States in partnership with Local Leadership Foundations. We believe that Leadership Foundations is uniquely positioned to pilot this approach to community development – an approach that unleashes the power of faith communities to an unprecedented degree – in ways that could reshape models of ministry and community development for decades to come.