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:

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:

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.

Learn more about CCMP 
Learn more about Umoja

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

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

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