A vision for integral mission
Inspiring and equipping church leaders to lead their congregations and denominations in integral mission is the first step to bring about whole-life transformation in their churches and communities. We call this ‘envisioning for integral mission’.
Once the church and its leadership understand God’s vision of a transformed community and God’s purpose for the church in partnering with him, they should naturally want to act and respond to the needs of the communities around them. How the church and community respond to the needs identified will vary, and may include:
- establishing self-help groups
- improving infrastructure
- advocating for improvement of services, access to services or changes to unjust laws
- projects to improve livelihoods
Engaging church leadership
Church leadership is important. Church leaders can either enable or prevent the process of mobilising their church. When envisioned, the church leaders can release their congregation’s potential so the whole body of the church can minister to one another and to the community.
Church leaders are often respected within their communities and have the potential for great influence. They often act as role models within their communities. Working together with other church leaders in the community can be one way of displaying unity and love. The strength of church denominations and local church congregations is greatly affected by the strength of the leadership. For example, it is difficult to change a church’s attitudes to issues like HIV and gender unless the leaders themselves are committed to such change.
Working with denominations
The process of envisioning can be applied to a single church, a group of churches or a whole denomination. Envisioning denominations requires a slightly different approach, because a commitment to integral mission may involve significant organisational change and re-orientation of vision and structure. This change will empower each local church congregation within the denomination to take action to address community needs. Working through whole denominations allows for a large number of churches to be mobilised quickly where there is strong support and buy-in from senior denominational leaders.
Find out more about envisioning for integral mission
Mobilising churches and communities
Once the church and its leadership are envisioned for integral mission, they can be mobilised to act and respond to the needs of their local communities. In a rural setting, the needs of a clearly defined local community, such as a village, would be addressed, but in an urban setting or on the outskirts of a town, the idea of 'local community' may be less clear and needs to be defined at the outset.
Once the local church is envisioned it has two options:
- To take responsibility for identifying and responding to the needs of the community (church mobilisation)
- To mobilise the community so that together the church and community enter the process of identifying needs, mobilising resources and responding (church and community mobilisation)
In church mobilisation, the resulting initiatives are not normally predetermined but are based on the community needs assessment completed by the church. Sometimes, though, a church decides to address a specific, predetermined issue (for example, SGBV or savings and loans) in the community and prepares the appropriate programmes or projects to achieve this. Church mobilisation can be particularly appropriate in contexts where Christians are a marginalised minority without a voice in the community or where they are seeking to have a prophetic voice to change social norms.
In church and community mobilisation, the local church works with its local community to identify and respond to their needs together. Effective and committed facilitators are critical to the success of the approach, as it can take a number of years. The process is open-ended and the resulting initiatives are managed by the church and community together. Church and community mobilisation has been introduced in more than 40 countries and adapted to suit the specific country context, often acquiring a new name while maintaining key principles.
CCMP and Umoja
CCMP and Umoja are two well-established church and community mobilisation approaches with resources available in multiple languages. Umoja means ‘togetherness’ in the Swahili language of East Africa, and CCMP stands for church and community mobilisation process.