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In communities around the world, church networks are reaching the most vulnerable people in areas where NGOs cannot reach. Tearfund is committed to working with the local church and believes in the church’s limitless potential for outreach and influence for change through and in its community. 

We believe in supporting the church, at local and national levels, to carry out its calling to be salt and light in the world and serve those living in poverty. We believe that poverty exists as a result of broken relationships with God, ourselves, others and creation. The church has a key role to play in helping to restore these four broken relationships, bringing about whole-life transformation to individuals and communities. 

The church is not meant to be insular but is called to go out into communities, restore brokenness and engage with the needs of individuals – physical, spiritual, emotional, economic, environmental and social. Tearfund’s approach is to envision and equip the church in practical ways to work with the local community, identifying needs and mobilising resources to bring about restoration and transformation.

Learn more about our faith-based approach

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.

A smiling African woman wearing a colourful dress and matching head-dress. N’Govie Amenan Adele, CCMP church member, Manglai-kan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Join the conversation

Connect, learn and share your experience with others involved in church and community mobilisation in our new Tearfund Community Platform

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Impact and learning

Great transformation can occur when local churches are mobilised to live out integral mission and address poverty and injustice. From our twenty years’ experience of implementing church and community mobilisation, we have gathered evidence of this transformation as well as key learning on processes.

The impact of CCMP in West Africa 2020

The church and community mobilisation process, or CCMP, is a process designed to awaken and empower churches to respond to all the needs in their communities. The church and the community work together to mobilise local resources, reach the poorest and most marginalised people, and overcome poverty.

The objective of CCMP itself is to capture the attention of people, to empower people to transform their situation using their God given resources in a sustainable and holistic manner.

CCMP is made up of five stages. The first stage called ‘Church awakening’, uses participatory Bible studies. This helped the church discover its potential and purpose, discover and mobilise its local resources and take on its responsibility to address the needs of its community.

We begin with the church because the kind of change that is desired is change that touches the total person.

The end result of CCMP is how people could be reached holistically. It’s looking at the spiritual, the social, the physical of the person.

“The church is in every community. So it's a more sustainable way of doing it because they would never leave.” - Mrs Dinatu Ayiinzat, CCMP Trainer, Nigeria

By the end of stage one, the church is ready to reach out to its community to start building relationships. Stages 2 to 5 of CCMP see the church and community working together to mobilise their local resources, to take ownership of the change they want to see in their community.

“I learnt through CCMP that we have God-given resources, and we do not have to stay like this without working and without hoping for any change in our lives. But as soon as I understood this, it made a real change in my mindset - I realised that I can make things happen in my life.“ - Izadene Debora, Makeure Village, Chad.

“When CCMP came to Manglai, I was running a little business, but after I heard about CcMP, after thinking about it, things started to move forward. I did more trading, and the business kept growing. I use this money to pay for the children’s school fees.“ - Yao Georges, Manglai Kan, Côte d'Ivoire.

“In the beginning, and with the grace of God, I started with the sum of 200,000 FCFA. And when I started in the early days, the chickens I took cost 150,000 FCFA. Some time later I bought a second supply of 300 chickens. The sale of these 300 chickens helped me a lot. That’s the money I used to advance the construction of my house.“ - Kouakou Jean-Luc, Kokumbu, Côte d'Ivoire.

The role of the church - where the church then sees itself as salt and light to the community around it, has built bridges and as a result relationship between the church and the community really just begins to grow.

When we build those relationships, we need to see ourselves as brothers and  sisters trying to achieve a common goal.

“Before CCMP, there was no collaboration between the church and the community. Now the community meet, discuss and make decisions together.” - Tailacebe Tchika Lundi, Makeure Village, Chad.

“The church and the community decided together to create a school for the benefit of all the children in the village. Also, they decided to create a health centre.” - Chief Gnene Toni, Makeure Village, Chad.

“We had never dreamed that one day, in our village, we would have water from a tower. It is the only village which has drinking water from a tower in the whole region. We have the borehole which is right here. That is the result of CCMP. When there wasn’t any clean water, we used to suffer a lot from diarrhoea. That doesn’t happen now. There are only rare cases now. Sickness and stomach aches are a thing of the past!“ - Tedang Paul, Makeure Village, Chad.

“When CCMP arrived in the village, we, the adults, the old people, the children, began to work together, united. We understood that this was the way for us to develop. And the decisions we made together and proposed for the village were adopted. We are not divided, we are united. We grow cassava, eggplant and chilli that we consume in part and sell as well.“ - Kofi Kan Afely, Manglai Kan, Côte d'Ivoire.

The process can take years and will lead to a repeated cycle of reflection and action. The principles that are learned will change someone's mindset, changing how people live throughout and beyond the end of the process.

“We were blind people, and now through CCMP our eye are opened, and I, as chief of this village, am proud of my people.” - Chief Gnene Toni, Makeure Village, Chad.

“The CCMP has transformed my life and the community of Makerue. Based on the current achievements thanks to the CCMP, I can say that the future of Makeure will be better, and I strongly believe it.” -  Izadene Debora, Makeure Village, Chad.

Watch a longer film from 2013 to hear church leaders, Tearfund staff and Tearfund partners share the impact of CCMP.

In order to measure whole-life transformation, we have developed the Light Wheel tool, which helps to define and measure the different dimensions that contribute to well-being: capabilities, emotional and mental health, living faith, material assets and resources, participation and influence, personal relationships, physical health, social connections, and stewardship of the environment. We use this tool as part of our evaluation process.

Find out more about the Light Wheel

In selected countries we use QuIP (Qualitative Impact Assessment Protocol) to assess and learn about the impact of church and community mobilisation. QuIP is an innovative and trusted approach that is recognised by the Department for International Development (DFID) and other donors. It provides a robust qualitative method that identifies the most significant drivers of change in the lives, livelihoods and well-being of a programme’s intended beneficiaries.

Read reports and evaluations showing the impact of church and community work

Find all our research reports relevant to the church’s role in community development and humanitarian work

Related topics

  • The church has an active role in the promotion of gender equality, equitable relationships and positive masculinities through the teaching and study of scriptures. The church also can bring holistic transformation in people’s lives, and can be mobilised to break the silence on SGBV, tackle stigmatisation of survivors, and provide support for survivors of SGBV. The church can be a safe space for healing and restoration of broken lives and relationships.

    Explore resources for churches on SGBV

    The church has an active role in the promotion of gender equality, equitable relationships and positive masculinities through the teaching and study of scriptures. The church also can bring holistic transformation in people’s lives, and can be mobilised to break the silence on SGBV, tackle stigmatisation of survivors, and provide support for survivors of SGBV. The church can be a safe space for healing and restoration of broken lives and relationships.

    Explore resources for churches on SGBV

  • It is part of the mission of the church to undertake advocacy through speaking out against injustice, defending the cause of people living in poverty, holding those in power to account, and empowering people to speak out for themselves. Its ultimate aim is to bring and demonstrate the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God.

    Read more about church and advocacy

    It is part of the mission of the church to undertake advocacy through speaking out against injustice, defending the cause of people living in poverty, holding those in power to account, and empowering people to speak out for themselves. Its ultimate aim is to bring and demonstrate the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God.

    Read more about church and advocacy

  • Resilient people and communities have the capacity to cope with shocks and stresses without crisis and to recover quickly. Tearfund believes the local church has a significant role to play in helping communities to build their resilience.

    Read more about church and resilience

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    Read more about church and resilience

  • When disasters happen, the church is often the first place that people turn to for emotional and physical support. It is therefore crucial to help churches and their communities to prevent disasters, reduce their impact when they do occur, and rebuild livelihoods and communities in the aftermath.

    Read more about church and disasters

    When disasters happen, the church is often the first place that people turn to for emotional and physical support. It is therefore crucial to help churches and their communities to prevent disasters, reduce their impact when they do occur, and rebuild livelihoods and communities in the aftermath.

    Read more about church and disasters

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