by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/13/15.
I’m writing this while attending the CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) conference. At this conference we try to seek out new ways to find needs in our communities and to then meet those needs as a demonstration of God’s love and His Good News.
A Leadership Exercise.
Here is a leadership exercise designed to help you uncover unmet needs in our communities that ministries can meet.
I know you understand that we must become skilled in polling the opinions and needs of our mission field (those we are reaching out to) and not just our congregants. I often am disappointed when I hear that church leaders polled the congregants to discover when they should add another service. What they are doing is getting the input of people who already attend their church. Now this is fine if you are adding another service because of the onset of sociological strangulation, and thus you are targeting your existing attendees.
But if you are evangelistically reaching out to unchurched people (like every church should be doing according to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19ff), then we need to become better acquainted with the needs, opinions, and attitudes of unchurched people within the scope of our reach. And, the best research is quantitatively based, not anecdotal .
Thus, in this leadership exercise, share some innovative ways that your congregation, or another ministry, has ascertained the needs and wants of the community they serve. With students, I usually grade these postings on relevance and quality. Thus, a student said, “Church A asked some people on the street,” this response describes a strategy that will not be very effective due to the small size of the sample.
Therefore, this leadership exercise is looking for good, creative, and powerful tools that churches are employing to reach out and ascertain the needs of the unchurched. This may mean that you have to do some sleuthing, either on the Internet, among colleagues, or with denominational offices. But then bring to this discussion some of the best ideas for understanding the unchurched person’s needs and wants.