Scott's Top 9 Tips on How a Church Can Engage Their Community Through MissionInsite


Alternate Headline #1: Scott's Cheat Sheet for Clergy as You Fill Out Charge Conference Forms

Alternate Headline #2: Don't Repeat the Mistakes Scott has Made in Previous Reports & Learn From His Errors

Rev. Scott Parrish serves a dual appointment as the Conference Mission Specialist and as pastor of two North Georgia Conference congregations. He is a champion of the Mission Insight demographics tool that is available to all North Georgia United Methodist Churches. Having named Community Engagement as a Conference-wide Area of Focus, we had to check in with Scott to get his insight on best tips and tricks on using this great tool. (Especially knowing that Mission Insight information is part of the Charge Conference Forms churches will complete in the coming months!) 

Scott's Top Tips

#1 Do use this robust demographic tool as a way to launch individuals and your congregation into a spiritual adventure discovering & relating to neighbors in the community. Don't get lost in the weeds of the numbers. While some folks love numbers and strategy, you'll be wise to translate the essentials to members.

#2  Key questions include: Who are the people or groups God has shown that our church can effectively reach and engage into the full life of the congregation? What does our church momentum look like in comparison to the community momentum? What does our church need to do to be a community church today?

#3 Discern a specific community or people group that our church can know & be known in. In an urban area, a church of 100 will be hard pressed to know 20,000 people, so your MissionInsite report might best be around 1.5-2 mile radius of the church. In a rural area, with much less population, you might need to start with a 10 mile radius and then adjust with a 2nd report greater or less than that. The QuickInsite & MinistryPriorities are 2 primary reports where you can find this information. 

#4 After you've run a few reports and found the best fit, note the standout numbers that get your attention or that are in sharp contrast to the reality of your active congregation. Also look at the trends in the years ahead. Consider the community reality alongside the congregational reality. What does the church have energy and capacity to do to better minister to neighbors today and tomorrow? Where are you blessed to serve God and neighbor as a congregation, and where might you wisely collaborate with other churches or ministry partners to serve the community?

#5 Dig deeper & get into what I consider the heart of the report with the Top 10 Mosaic segments in your community. Note the Experian link at the bottom of QuickInsite page 8 will give you more information about the mosaic people groups. Even more helpful for ministry, see the Bandy link for church application. This is especially useful as your church works up an action plan including Charge Conference report. Who is your church and who are your neighbors, as you understand the Mosaics? Most churches should be content in a calling, and have plenty of work to do, to reach one people group in your community. This also creates a dynamic where a number of UMC congregations in a community may each be active in reaching particular people groups and able to work better together on some ministries while also being secure in their individual ministries.

#6 Don't get stuck in study, but get beyond the church walls to learn about your immediate community or a specific people group. Go to that restaurant or store, discover that neighborhood, do a prayer walk or drive, and go! Don't suppose you have all the answers, instead as a follower of Jesus with eyes wide open, see what God is creating in the larger community. Be aware if there is a bridge building to that community already in the congregation and who is available to be your guide, your translator, your mentor.

#7 As you & your church explorers learn more about individuals in the community, you might helpfully return to the Bandy mosaic ministry application as congregational movement including  Leadership, Hospitality, Education, Small Groups, Worship, Outreach, Facilities, Finances, & Communication. What have others learned about ministry to this particular mosaic group that we might consider in our context? Adjust to your scale and scope as you reorient a congregation with priority upon this people group. How do we move from reaching 1 or 2 people to becoming a movement reaching 10 & 20? How do we fan this flame for the church so that we allow God to resurrect us, creating a new church momentum. 

#8 As we take next steps, how do we continue this way of actively following Jesus as a congregation where we serve / evaluate / adapt based on effectively reaching others? Being an outward facing, community engaged congregation means we continue to learn and grow as disciples of Jesus out in our exciting community.  

#9 Know the Center for Congregational Excellence offers ongoing training opportunities and the staff is ready to assist! 

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