CTC’s ‘Congregational Development’ programme is designed to support churches and leaders seeking to act in public life through community organising with Citizens UK. Selina Stone explains what the programme is all about and how it equips Christian leaders and churches…
Community organising is most famous for its campaigns – whether for the Living Wage, a cap on payday lending, or a more just asylum system. However, the foundation of all this work is the way it develops institutions and leaders. For churches – as for other civic and religious groups – this is what determines the extent to which they can participate in public life. CTC and Citizens UK are working together to help churches harness this great potential of community organising, through a nine month ‘action learning community.’ I’ve been one of the team of staff working on our 2014-15 pilot, and we are now planning an expanded programme for 2015-16.
In the pilot year churches from a range of church traditions are taking part in this action learning community. The ‘learning’ aspect involves a member of the clergy and a lay person committing to attend seven core workshops. In these sessions, they are taught the foundational principles of community organising and consider how to practically work towards achieving the ‘seven hallmarks of an organised church.’ These hallmarks indicate how much impact community organising is having in the life of the church and beyond. They include:
– Integration of theology, spirituality and action
– Building a genuinely relational culture
– Constant reorganisation to renew a focus on people
– Development of leaders through public action at a sustainable pace
– Sharing power and responsibility
– Instinctive readiness to work with those beyond the church walls
– The telling and embodiment of the Christian story
The ‘action’ element of the Action Learning Community is dependent on each church leader’s commitment to have at least three one-to-one conversations each week with members of their congregation and community. The leaders have the support of a community organiser to help the congregation move forward in any or all of the seven areas listed, by training their leaders and helping them plan and initiate local campaigns.
Although in its first year, this programme is clearly addressing a significant need in the ministry of the leaders and churches we are working with. The process will start again in September 2015 with 9 churches already signed up and more in the pipeline. Please get in touch for more information and to see how your church could benefit from congregational development through community organising.