Mapping Your Church’s Assets
Adapted from Mobilize My Church.
Local churches that have been engaged with a biblical framework for addressing poverty or have used various tools and trainings from the Chalmers Center know that one of the biggest keys in a healthy ministry is taking an asset-based, rather than a needs-based, approach. An asset-based approach helps us see that all people, both those who are materially poor and those with material wealth, can contribute to poverty alleviation efforts.
Often, however, churches and ministries don’t do a great job of taking our own assets into account as we move forward to serve our communities. We might have learned not to rush into a neighborhood as though we have all the answers for material poverty in that area, but we often place our members in ministry roles based on what we think is needed rather than considering the gifts they bring to the table.
When it comes to helping our congregations and ministries learn to love their neighbors, we need to start with listening to them. Unless we’re willing to listen to the people within our ministries, we’re likely to be focused on perceived needs rather than being open to recognizing the creative assets that God has given the people in our ministries. Instead of laboring to build the ministry we think our church “should” have, we ought to take the time and effort to assess where our people are and what their gifts are and then build a ministry around those gifts.
Recognizing Spiritual Gifts
Having a deeper understanding of spiritual gifts within our churches and ministries can be a helpful corrective. God has given good gifts to all his people that are to be used to build up the body of Christ—gifts of service, administration, giving, mercy, leadership, teaching, encouragement, etc. (see. Rom. 12:6-8). Before we assume we know what ministry we should do, it’s helpful to pay attention to ways that God has already gifted our members and explore how these gifts can serve our communities.
In addition to spiritual gifts, God gives us other assets, because every good gift is from him (James 1:17). Vocational expertise, buildings and property, time, life experience, and all kinds of skills—these gifts and assets are valuable to relational ministry, but it’s critical that we recognize and acknowledge them and find ways to use them in our churches, so that we can also practice this approach in our neighborhoods.
For example, if your church owns a building, that’s an asset. What are creative ways you can use your building to benefit your community? If you have members with in-demand career skills, how can they use their experience to build up the community? If you have members who are skilled at building relationships, how can they use this gift to build connections with the community?
Changing How We Approach Ministry
Shifting from a needs-based approach to an asset-based approach takes effort. You’re likely to face some challenges along the way. You’ll need to get comfortable addressing the “we’ve never done it that way” fear. You’ll have to face the reality that your ministry might not end up looking like you expected it would, and that’s a blessing!
When we truly recognize the many gifts and blessings God has given the members of our local congregations and ministries, we can see that we don’t serve from a position of need but of abundance. Rather than overlooking the gifts God has given our churches and communities because they don’t fit the preconceived notions of how we should do ministry, we should look around us and listen to those who are on this mission alongside us to discern how the gifts God has given those in our churches can help us love our neighbors.
If your church or community isn’t sure how to transition to an asset-based approach to ministry, a great place to start is with the Helping without Hurting Online Library. The library gives you instant access to 5 online courses that will train you and your church to help people experience lasting change.
- Helping Without Hurting: The Basics
- Helping Without Hurting in Benevolence Ministry
- Mobilize My Church
- Are You a Good Neighbor?
- Practicing the King’s Economy
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