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If you haven't already reached out to your church members to ask how they are doing through this crisis, now is the time! As a valuable member of your community, a church can also play a part of the system in assessing and responding to community needs. I've talked with a number of churches and although each has their unique approach to assessment, there are some key findings: 

CONTACT members/attendees of your congregation.  

Ask them how they are doing, challenges they are facing, and the needs they have. I have found it helpful to use a color-coded system. Here is an example: 

  • RED: feeling overwhelmed, immediate needs not being met, need assistance. (What could they use to feel supported?)

  • Orange: worried, have some concerns and issues I'm uncertain about. (How much and what kind of support is needed? Ask how they are resourcing others.)

  • Yellow: hanging in there, but not unmanageable. (What are their concerns? Ask about ways they are being or could be a resource to others.)

  • Green: doing good. (Ask how they are being a resource or ways they could help both church and community.)

Based on their response, determine how often you need to check-in with them. Depending on how large your congregation is, you will need to gather support of church members in doing this.

Assess STRENGTHS as well as needs.

As we are asking how people are doing, at the same time we need to be asking about STRENGTHS. What are they doing to be part of the process? Identify with them ways that they can help. What are their strengths? What could they offer? 

COLLABORATE with your community!

If you already have partners in the community, strengthen those connections and work together: 

  • Designate a deacon or person in your church to contact local churches and gather information on what they are doing. Meet (virtually) to develop a process of reaching out to your community. There are creative ideas out there. One church used color coded stickers for windows to indicate if someone needed to be checked in on. Another church developed a postcard to send to neighbors with local resource information.

  • Designate someone to reach out to the non-profit organizations and partners. Meet (virtually) to discuss who is doing what, what are the gaps, and how will you work together. Create a neighborhood/community plan of action. 

Utilize TOOLS that help assess and coordinate the response.

There are many ways to track needs and ways to help, but they should be easily accessible tools that can be updated and changed. Find someone gifted in your congregation to research the best tools. Maybe your community has existing tools. Working with your community organizations on this will be helpful.

Here is a list of possible tools to use or gather ideas on what you might use: (gathered from a Leadership Foundations COVID-19 Town Hall Recording (01 April 2020)

  • Church Pulse Weekly through the Gloo platform – four new assessments to help organizations understand and support your people and your community during a time of crisis. 

  • Aunt Bertha is a social care network that connects people and programs — making it easy for people to find social services in their communities, for nonprofits to coordinate their efforts, and for customers to integrate social care into the work they already do.

  • Be a Neighbor Campaign through VOMO - Nonprofits are on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The VOMO volunteer platform has been made free for these organizations. Through that platform, they are mobilizing every possible neighbor who can be a volunteer in the coming days and weeks. 

  • Help Map and Groups on the Nextdoor Platform – Nextdoor was created to bring neighbors together. Nextdoor Groups aids the continued organization of local help groups. Help Map is an interactive map of your neighborhood where neighbors can mark yourself as someone who can pitch in for neighbors who need it.

  • CarePortal - CarePortal is launching an emergency response function of CarePortal for specific COVID-19 related challenges. The onboarding, need-entry, and need-response process will be centrally supported, streamlined, and limited to pre-defined core/common needs, e.g., to address Emergency Worker support, emergency household shopping/food insecurity, and emergency housing/shelter insecurity.

  • Get-Support - The Get-Support tool will provide faith-based and community organizations with the ability to quickly, securely, and safely respond to needs from those who are facing enforced or voluntary quarantine.

SHARE your story.

I’d LOVE to hear how your church is reaching out to congregation and community. I am praying that churches are finding God's strength as they seek to be communities of hope! Contact me, Jodi Koeman, Church with Community Coordinator, [email protected], if you’d like to learn together. Please share your stories, ideas, and questions below.

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