Can international missions have an impact on a church’s local ministry? CrossPoint City Church of Cartersville, Georgia, has found that one approach is effective in both international missions and local missions.
It Started With a Trip
Four years ago, Pastor James Griffin visited Bolivia on a vision trip with Food for the Hungry (FH). Matt Warren, Engagement Pastor at CrossPoint City Church, said that the trip was a pivotal moment for the church.
“(The FH staff) did a fantastic job of explaining how FH invested in a community and their 10 year plan to make it self sustaining,” Matt explained. “This was very impressive and after some prayer and deliberation, James agreed to begin a relationship.”
But the church doesn’t focus on their own ideas for projects in the community. Juan Pablo Belmonte, Field Liaison Manager at FH, commented that the church has been especially attuned to the community’s felt needs. “I love working with CrossPoint City Church because they love God’s world and do not have their own agenda,” he said. “They want to serve in the way that is needed in Alegria. That is their agenda.”
Discovering a Model for Development
When Matt took his first trip to Bolivia in 2016, he took away some key notes from FH’s strategy.
Assess the true needs of the community
FH works with to identify the root causes of poverty in the community, such as broken interpersonal relationships, not just the symptoms, such as a lack of clean water. For example, it’s easy to drill a well in a community, but without good governance and cooperative neighbors, the well will eventually break and remain in disrepair. Relationships must be in good working order before a community can make physical progress.
Identify true leaders
A community’s leadership includes formal leaders such as the mayor, pastors, and school principal, but it also includes informal leaders. An informal leader may be an active parent, and wise elderly person, or even a youth who is well-respected by her peers. It is important to include both formal and informal leaders in community development processes.
Create a plan to help the community be self-sustaining
Once leaders come together and assess the true needs of the community, they can work together to establish a development plan. This plan should be quantifiable, with specific goals to be established on a mutually agreed upon timeline.
Work together between secular and faith-based organizations
Matt pointed out that FH’s insistence on working with faith-based and non-faith-based members of the community was a key point for him. “It was clear that the local secular and church organizations were able to work together by both working with FH,” he said. “To me this was the key because one of the greatest frustrations in the States is getting church and state to cooperate in any fashion at all.”
Matt took the principles he discovered through FH, along with other ways God was teaching him and the church’s leadership, and applied them to local ministry in Cartersville.
Missions at Home
Matt found that the principles of development applied easily to the local context. “I took these concepts and used them to start a relationship with our local government officials in an effort to collaborate for the sake of community service,” he said. “We didn’t go in with an agenda, but rather asked them what the greatest needs that they could not meet were.”
CrossPoint City Church began to work through the list of needs identified by government officials. The collaboration led to partnerships that are improving local housing, mentoring students, providing prenatal care, and donating school supplies and other needs to underserved people in the community.
“This has led to a great deal of mutual trust and collaboration,” Matt explained. “We now use the government facility in the poorer part of our county as a home base for some of our ministries… It has truly been a massive blessing from the Lord and we are extremely grateful.”
Juan Pablo pointed out that the church has seen transformation occur through their ministry because of the way they focus their attention. “They think that the only way to equip people to overcome poverty in Bolivia, the US and just about anywhere around the world is by building relationships,” he said. “That is actually what they are doing in Cartersville and in other ministries they support in other parts of the world. They’re building relationships.”
Ready to try out a partnership with FH that could also impact your work at home? Submit our church partnership formand our staff will get in touch with you to answer your questions.