This article gives new Connecting Churches clear and simple tips to create a sustainable rhythm of responding to local requests with community resources. To prevent burnout, Connecting Church Leaders are encouraged to plan ahead, pace themselves, and see this opportunity not just as a way to serve the community but also as a way for developing leaders and making devoted disciples of Jesus within their own congregation.
Church Leaders: Primary Point People, Connecting Church Leaders; Local Network Leaders: Regional Managers, Ambassadors
Included in This Article
- CarePortal Podcast: Interview with Two Connecting Church Leaders
- CarePortal Card Training Video
- 7 Tips to Help Set Your Rhythm as a New Connecting Church
CarePortal Podcast: Interview with Two Connecting Church Leaders
The 30-minute podcast episode above is an interview with Terry and Erika Glenn of World Harvest Ministries in Kansas City, Missouri.
The conversation specifically focuses on their own experiences as a Connecting Church and recommendations for other leaders
in their first 90 days as a Connecting Church.
CarePortal Card Training Video
7 Tips to Help Set Your Rhythm as a New Connecting Church
1. Find the Connecting Church Leader(s) who sees this type of ministry as their blessing
Connecting Church Leaders should generally be the kind of church leaders who see it as a privilege to serve local families and would jump at the opportunity to do more it more often if given the resources- after all, being a Connecting Church means more resources will reach families who need them! Most churches have a small group of people who always say "Yes" to individual projects when asked by the pastor or other church leader. But the kind of people who make great Connecting Church Leaders are those who have a deep, personal passion for this specific kind of work and love making connections with families in crisis, community responders, and caseworkers.
In a similar way, it helps if Connecting Church Leaders are motivated not just to help other people through meeting their real-time needs, but to put themselves in consistent opportunities to see God work in their own lives and enjoy a closer relationship to Him themselves. This will dramatically affect the power dynamics these leaders operate with when interacting with vulnerable families and set them up to establish more meaningful connections over a much longer season.
2. Embrace CarePortal as the primary way your church's ministries gain access to the community
CarePortal is not intended to be a separate ministry, compartmentalized into another "new thing" a church starts to do. The ideal approach is to see CarePortal as the platform that any of the other, current ministries at the church use to access vulnerable families nearby. This makes every ministry, even seemingly "irrelevant" ministries, a potential response team that can work together to serve and fund requests for families from the perspective of their own ministry.
The goal is not another ministry bucket to recruit volunteers for, but a lens to allow all ministries to look outward and gain access to valuable real-time opportunities to serve.
3. Set and communicate realistic goals or limits
It's important for Connecting Church Leaders to recognize their capacity and protect themselves from burnout. Whether it's setting a goal of responding to one request per week, or being available for three to five hours per week to make connections, these leaders should create a rhythm they can sustain and that many other leaders at their church could also participate in as additional Connecting Church Leaders. With this kind of sustainable model in place, it will be much easier to cast vision and invite other leaders to help without feeling as though they need to surrender everything else if they were to participate.
Once these personal limits have been met, Connecting Church Leaders should not feel pressured in an unhealthy way to continue responding until the planned "renewal date" when they can start fresh for the week or month.
At the same time, these goals or limits should not be kept secret. Communicating clearly with local network leaders will allow them to plan ahead and know how many additional Connecting Churches are needed to truly sustain each community.
4. Have a plan to stay organized and accountable
When a specific CarePortal request has multiple community responders, each offering resources for different items, staying organized is critical to making sure everything comes together and the family ends up with the items, services or assistance they need. For each Connecting Church Leader, this organization will likely look different and may take some time to develop, but it's important to see this as a priority worthy of their intentional effort. Developing this process could be done in partnership with local network leaders and other church leaders so everyone is on the same page and can step in to speak knowledgably as they support or recruit other responders, team members, or leaders. Your service through being a Connecting Church Leader allows Community Responders and Community Champions the opportunity to be a part of this kingdom work, as well as allows best practices to be shared across the network so the collective Church is able to work together in how it represents Jesus with excellence and consistency.
5. When you commit and claim resources, be ready to see the request all the way through
Committing to a new request and claiming the resources offered by community members should be seen as the beginning of a very important process that demands intentional follow-through and responsive communication. When a Connecting Church Leader takes this step, they should expect to make and receive some phone calls soon after, and make sure they will be available to do so.
The goal for these leaders is to be someone that both community responders and caseworkers enjoy partnering with. They are part of this connection process as well and should be the recipients of deliberate, thoughtful care by Connecting Church Leaders. This will result in the overall network health of the community as agency workers come to trust churches with more and more access to the families they serve and community responders look to respond more and more. Each Connecting Church's ministries will also thrive as a result of this intentionality as others see them as a beautiful representation of Jesus' heart for the vulnerable.
6. Look for relationships at every level of the process
Sometimes, the open door to a potential relationship or deeper conversation isn't where a Connecting Church Leader, Team Leader, or Response Team Member expects. It won't always be with the vulnerable family, who are so often dealing with countless additional pressures and crises compounding together. If Connecting Churches defined "successful" meaningful connections as only those they are able to make with the families they serve, the chances of disappointment and burnout increase dramatically.
Every request actually represents multiple layers of meaningful connections, and Connecting Church Leaders simply won't know which layer (or layers) God has ordained. In addition to possibility of connecting with the family, it's just as likely to make connections during the process of partnering with the community responder(s), caseworker, or even through their interactions with their own response team leaders, responders, or family members. And what about the question of what God can do in the life of the Connecting Church Leaders themselves?
If the focus was just on making connections with families, all of these other opportunities would be missed. Seeing each request for all of its layers of relationships, however, makes the chances of "success" much higher, and opens the door for God to do even more amazing things. It is through these vital connections that the Church leads the way in how families and kids are served!
7. Develop and build your team(s)
No church leader is meant to do this work alone for more than a very short season. Such an approach obeys neither the call to make disciples nor to operate in biblical community. Being a Connecting Church should be seen as an opportunity to take an interest in the development of additional leaders in the Church. While this may require responding to slightly fewer requests as some available hours are directed toward building a strong internal team, giving those who serve the support to continue serving will increase the overall response capacity of a Connecting Church in a more sustainable way and develop a much deeper trust and connection with their community's requesting agencies and vulnerable families.
Even if a Connecting Church Leader has only a few trusted people join them at first, the mindset should always be that they are not only responding to vulnerable families, but developing and building into their team as well.
For Connecting Churches with a CarePortal Card, church members who are approved Response Team members will be able to Fund requests as well as offer to provide the items or services. This is only possible if they are on the response team, emphasizing the importance of getting people from the church added and approved to these teams.
When funds are offered by a team member from a Connecting Church for a request, the Connecting Church Leader(s) of that church will be alerted with the opportunity Commit & Claim those funds. After 24 hours, if these funds have not been claimed, CarePortal will alert other Connecting Churches and give them the opportunity to Commit & Claim as well.