Special Series: Place Matters for Church Leaders

In this special season, we discuss how key Place Matters topics can be implemented in the ministry efforts of the church.


Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

In this special series of Place Matters, we have been exploring the relationship of congregations to their local context. We have made the case that, for churches, place should matter too. Any understanding of a thriving congregation is incomplete if it does not include caring well for our neighbors and neighborhood. We partnered with the Barna Group to put some data behind this.

For this conversation to have any credibility, of course, we must engage a more inclusive and representative audience of leaders. So, we have been talking to our friend, the Rev Dr. Alvin Sanders, President and CEO of World Impact, about some similar research he and his team have done with Barna to engage Black and brown pastors who are serving in lower-income, majority-minority neighborhoods.

World Impact is an organization that exists specifically to offer training and equipping for church leaders working in lower-income, urban communities. So what did Alvin and his team discover when they asked about the role of congregations in the neighborhood? Are there signs of hope here? And if so, what can majority culture churches learn to close the church-to-neighborhood gap?

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Connecting with Partners: Leadership Foundations

Within the ecosystem of a city, what is the function of congregations? Are they just there to serve the needs of the members or should they play a role in contributing to the health and vitality of the city, or, at least, the neighborhood the church inhabits? The Leadership Foundation is a growing global network of faith-based leaders and organizations from over 40 member cities. Leadership Foundations believes that if we can change our cities, we can change the world. And this change starts with relationships. 

So how do they go about inviting their members from Dallas to Delhi into place-based impact? We are excited to have Lee Kricher from Pittsburgh, Oliver Rishmond from Chattanooga, and Dave Hillis from National speak about the work of churches in impacting their cities.

Listen in as one of our Lead Consultants, David Park, discusses the methods the Leadership Foundation is using to help churches engage in place-based work.

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Trends and Research on the Church-Place Gap

FCS is a grateful recipient of the Lilly Endowment Inc Thriving Congregations grant. Through our partnership with Lilly we have been launching 2-year, place-based cohorts that we call City Shapers. City Shapers is inviting churches to build and participate in multi-sector, collaborative tables that are working to bring about flourishing in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of their city. We are doing this because FCS believes that part of being a thriving church is being connected to your neighborhood and participating in efforts that aid its well-being. 

As a part of this grant, we have also been doing some research in partnership with The Barna Group, a Christian research organization that provides data and insights on trends affecting faith, culture, and ministry today. Surveying over 400 church leaders we have been looking at the connections between the traditional metrics of church health with community engagement, poverty relief, and justice. So, what do you think the surveys revealed? How much impact does neighborhood engagement have on our perception of the health of churches?

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Serving the Church vs. Neighborhood: Reflections from FCS Staff

Guided by faith, driven to love neighbors, and committed to the role of the church, many of our team have struggled through the complications of leading churches into the world around them to participate in redemptive work. Every one of our stories emerges from different Christian traditions, different contexts, different membership sizes, and different budget constraints, but we have had many similar experiences when calling the church to love their neighbor and neighborhood. 

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Mobilizing the Church

If we are convinced that loving your neighbor and your neighborhood is a nonnegotiable part, of what it means to be the church, how do we get there? How do we mobilize the church for place-based engagement? 

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

The Dancefloor of the American Church

If you believe that the church should be embedded in your neighborhood, how do you know how to do that or what to do once you are? 

There are leaders, practitioners, scholars, and advocates around the globe who are struggling with this same thing. And even better news is that some resources and organizations exist solely to help you navigate that challenge. 

Joining us today are two of our friends and colleagues from The Parish Collective, a global network whose simple mission is to connect people to the church in the neighborhood. Jose Humphreys III is the author of Seeing Jesus in East Harlem: What happens when the churches show up and stay put, and Tim Soerens is the author of “Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church, Right Where You Are”.  His co-authored first book “The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Transform Mission, Discipleship, and Community 

Listen to my colleague, David Park, and I talk to two men who’ve given their lives, calling, and careers to reminding churches that place matters.

Comparing our Findings on the Church-Place Gap: World Impact

Seeing Place as Parish

Does loving your neighbor mean you have to love your neighborhood? For the church to enter into the full work of following Jesus, we believe place matters.
In this episode, we are talking to our good friends, colleagues, and clients – Dave Burger and Peter Hough. Peter and Dave are two congregational leaders in Alton, IL – a small, post-industrial, river town. Peter and Dave are the city catalysts who have been working with FCS to lead a City Shapers cohort in Alton. These guys exhibit so many of the qualities for what it means to personally love your neighbor but to also invite your congregations to love your neighborhood.

Listen in as one of our Lead Consultants, David Park, talks to Peter and Dave about the necessity, challenges, and possibilities of being a place-based church.