1. Join a local nonprofit Board: Local nonprofits are very community oriented. Usually, the executive director has relevant knowledge of a group within your community, and he or she has thought a lot about how to help them. Listen for needs they may have and consider partnering with them.
  2. Connect with a local foundation: Foundations are organizations that strategically invest in their communities. They usually have a specific area they like to fund, and they are very informed on the needs and assets of a community. Foundations have a balcony seat to the nonprofit world, which affords them with useful data on best practices and where your resources could be most helpful. Partnering with their staff and constituents could allow you to tap into a treasure trove of knowledge about your community.
  3. Partner with your local library: Libraries are community focused. They exist for the community and seek to be involved. Reading is essential to child development and libraries often seek to engage this group. Consider partnering with your library for a collaborative effort to engage children and families to expand your impact and build new relationships.
  4. Partner with an advocacy group: Typically, these groups have more passion than resources. However, because of their grassroots nature, they have an intimate knowledge of the people and problems in the community. Find a group that aligns with your church’s mission and consider partnering with them to address a systemic issue. Remember, you always have your building as a coveted asset.
  5. Partner with local colleges and universities: The church and institutions of higher education have a common mission field, the community. This is even more apparent with community colleges, as the name suggests. Have lunch with the college president and listen for needs and resources they may have. There may be an opportunity to partner with them by addressing a need such as increasing a certain enrolment demographic.
  6. Partner with Hospitals and other health agencies: Health agencies are interested in preventative care. Some agencies do extensive studies of the community to determine health needs such as: exercise, disease awareness, food deserts, etc. Consider partnering with a health agency to bring awareness or mitigation to a health crisis in your community.
  7. Connect with high-capacity donors: These individuals may have a vision that’s compatible with your church and they have the means to subsidize that enterprise. Remember, these individuals desire to be just as generous and faithful with their resources as everyone else; you just have to make the bold request. However, they may be more scrupulous about what they give to, so know your numbers and expected outcomes. Additionally, high-capacity donors have more to offer than monetary resources. They can also connect you with partners of equal means that are outside your circle of influence.

It’s all about listening to every voice in your community.

David Briggs is pastor at Abundant Life UMC in Lufkin Texas.

Foundations of Faith provides advice from Texas church pastors and its leadership on how to lead effectively. This blog is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a subject matter expert, contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at smartin@txcumc.org