Figure 2.5 Canvass Question (Cure for the Common Church, 2012, p. 38)
“Hello. My name is _____(name)_____ and I am from _____(name of church)_____. I am asking people to help us understand what are the greatest needs of this community that a church like ours could address?
An abbreviated version by the author, 2016:
“Hello. My name is _____(name)_____ and I am from _____(name of church)_____. What are the greatest needs of this community that a church like ours could address?
A brief overview of this from Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan for Church Health:
Focus 1: OUT. In Jesus’s ministry we see a ongoing emphasis on reaching out to nonreligious people and people in need (e.g. Luke 6:31-33). But churches quickly become inwardly focused, looking more after their own needs than the needs of those outside their church.
Tool 1 to Focus OUT: ASK. Get your administrative board and staff to go out on a Saturday morning walk through the church neighborhood and areas from which you draw your congregants. Tell them to ask people they meet this simple question: “What could a church like ours do to meet needs of people in this community?” Don’t ask them what you can do to meet their personal needs. That is too personal. Rather ask them to tell you about community needs. Usually they will tell you about their own needs. Then go back to the church and compile a list of needs. Pick out a couple needs that your church is equipped or is beginning to be equipped to address. Then reallocate funds and volunteers to meet those needs. I advise churches to do this twice a year. This keeps leaders listening for needs in the community. One church board member said, “I now work that question subtly into my conversations all year long. I find a lot of interesting needs in this community that way. And it helps me be a better board member because I can help the church focus on meeting needs outside the church.”
Here are some other tactical ideas for ascertaining community needs: