THE FAITH BASED NON-PROFIT AND THE LOCAL CHURCH
SOME IDEAS FOR NON-PROFIT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL and INDIGENOUS CHURCHES:
1. WORK ON YOUR WANT TO… What I mean is that the leadership of the NP should want to have good relationships with local churches. The NP leadership should think about the long term benefits of having local churches see them as a positive institution in the community. NPs might want to examine their own theological opinion about the place of the local church in God’s plan, and question if their organization supports it or hurts it.
2. THINK OF YOURSELF AS A BROKER…NPs should not just think of themselves as receivers of support from wealthy or supporting congregations for themselves, not if they are working in poor communities, but as a funnel to help several inner city congregations.
3. BECOME A RESOURCE TO INNER CITY CONGREGATIONS BY PROVIDING RESOURCES AND TRAINING….If the NP doesn’t want to be seen as a competitor to the local church they have to actually provide a resource or service to help poor congregations accomplish their mission. A good NP can provide skill training to local churches in such things as mercy interviews, how to set up food pantries and distribution, how to acquire information and make referrals to other agencies for more support, etc.
4. ENCOURAGE THE LOCAL CHURCH TO BE THE PROVIDER OF RELIEF, WHILE YOU FOCUS ON DEVELOPMENT…If the NP does all the relief work people will see no need of asking the church for help; not even their own church. Since development ministries usually take some specialized leadership and organization it is much better for NPs to focus on that side of ministry. The local church is much better suited for long term relational and accountable mercy than an NP.
5. DON’T SIMPLY TELL LOCAL CHURCHES WHAT TO DO, OR WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO, BUT ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED AND ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP THEM….Too many outside organizations come up with programs they want local churches to buy into, then wonder how come they don’t get much cooperation. Don’t forget local churches have their own traditions and concerns. It takes time to motivate, encourage, recruit and train church members into new ministries and a NP can overwhelm a pastor with programs that seem to compete with things he is already trying to get his people to do.
6. TAKE THE TIME TO DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL PASTORS, BUILD TRUST WITH THEM, AND PATIENTLY SHOW THEM HOW YOUR NP CAN ACTUALLY HELP THEM…If a local pastor begins to see you as a “time thief” he will have little use for you. He doesn’t want to lose his people to you so that they now serve with you and not with his church. You have to convince pastors you can both win in the relationship. This doesn’t mean the NP has to forsake its own mission or spiritual standards.
7. REMEMBER THAT THE MORE YOU HYPE YOUR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION AS THE “ANSWER” TO THIS PARTICULAR COMMUNITY THE MORE YOU IRRITATE THOSE WHO WERE THERE BEFORE YOU…Human beings are not immune from jealousy, coveting, and resentment, especially if their efforts are overlooked. What you mean as a good story for fund raising can seem like glory hunting, or even shading the truth, to those who know the fuller story. NPs have to fund raise, but be loving, truthful, and even humble as you do it.
8. IF THE NON-PROFIT IS LED, STAFFED, AND CONTROLLED BY THE MAJORITY CULTURE AND WORKS IN A MINORITY CULTURE HOW WILL THEY CONVINCE THE COMMUNITY THEY ARE REALLY THERE TO SERVE? … There is a difference between being a “colonizer” and a missionary. There is a difference in using a marginalized community for your experience, or study, or employment and actually bringing resources into that community so it can help liberate and develop itself. What active and working plan does the NP have for leadership development and ownership of the NP itself by indigenous community members?
9. REMEMBER, PASTORS IN POOR COMMUNITIES DON’T USUALLY HAVE THE SAME ELECTRONIC OR SOCIAL NETWORKING APPARATUS THAT NPs MIGHT HAVE,… Personal relationships are everything, so stop getting mad your phone calls don’t get answered, and professional type appointments don’t seem to work out. Keep showing up, visit their services, engage in their ministry and life, and you just might find a friend. Pastors often don’t answer calls from those they feel are selling them something, they focus almost entirely on their members and what they think is good for their members.
10. IF THE NP RAIDS LOCAL INNER CONGREGATIONS FOR INDIGENOUS WORKERS OR LEADERS IT OUGHT TO BE GIVING SOMETHING BACK…. Yes, the NP ought to be an opportunity for ministry employment in the community, but it would certainly be planting the seeds of good will if it could return blessing to the local churches from which these new workers emerge, or even bless those churches by having a solid and dependable means by which those unchurched folks the NP has reached are then referred to and placed in good local churches.
11. LOCAL PASTORS AREN’T STUPID, IF THEY CAN SECURE A DIRECT PIPELINE TO MIDDLE CLASS MONEY THEY WILL WANT IT FOR THEMSELVES… Non-profits usually have an advantage over inner city congregations because they have the suburban or middle class contacts and relationships by which they can secure or ask for resources. Some pastors are very independent, they don’t want to work with anyone else and so they will seek to get the resources they need for their ministries directly. This is as true in foreign missions as it is here in the States. Be careful that you, the leadership of the NP, are honest, generous and inviting to indigenous leaders, and careful not to be so protective of your sources of money that you would slander others to protect it. At the same time your relationship with your donors should be of such a quality, and your ministry program be of such a quality, that donors won’t be easily pulled away from it.
12. ALL OF US NEED TO ASK OURSELVES IF WE HAVE A KINGDOM VISION, OR SIMPLY AN “US” VISION? All of us can tend to be self-focused and even selfish. This includes those who lead local churches as well as faith based non-profits. We have people who seem to exhibit good character, but the way the refuse to cooperate with others, or seek to manipulate others, for the sake of the survival or growth of their own organization seems to give a lie to that reputation. We ought to not simply be good servants for our own organizations, but to help our organizations and churches be servants of God, and of His people, for the spread and growth of God’s Kingdom.