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What is our ministry context?

Community study:

Why is this step important: The community study report gathers information about the demographics, culture, history, institutions and organizational systems of the community, and evaluates its strengths and needs. The process of conducting a community study also facilitates networking within the community, or the exchange of information, ideas and resources with community residents and institutions.

Why it is helpful: Effective ministry depends on accurate information about the context for ministry. A community assessment is invaluable to the vision discernment process, because it brings into focus the aspects of community life that need to be transformed by the Gospel in word and deed, as well as the ways that God is already at work in the community. This helps the church to assess the opportunities and context for outreach. A community assessment also encourages networking that plants the seeds of ministry partnerships, and helps to build bridges of familiarity and caring between the church and community.

Your church might benefit from this step if ...you want to define your community of ministry more clearly; you have targeted a particular neighborhood or population for outreach (e.g. the neighborhood around the church, a housing project or apartment complex, a downtown district, Middle Eastern immigrants, single moms) and want to get to know this community better; you are looking for possible ministry partners. A community study is especially beneficial if the congregation is disconnected from its community of ministry, or is of a different culture, class or ethnicity.