Strengthening Local Relationships Through Online Learning
Through online learning, Chalmers is making paradigm-shifting resources more accessible to local churches.
Located in the heart of Colorado Springs, First Pres has always served its community and reached out around the world. The church has a 150-year history of local and global outreach, and they’ve often turned to resources like When Helping Hurts or Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions to equip their members for that work.
“The outgrowth of that has been a shared understanding of who the poor are, what the different models are for helping them, and what our role is as a church,” says Susan Buenger, Associate for Global Mission at First Pres. “It’s helped us decide what are we going to fund, and what our strategies are going to be.”
As part of First Pres’ Wednesday evening discipleship program, Susan recently took a group of 18 people through Chalmers’ new online course, Are You a Good Neighbor?. Released in October 2017, the course is designed to help individuals and churches begin building personal relationships with low-income neighbors in their communities.
Although much of the learning in Are You a Good Neighbor? happens online, the course encourages participants to join with others and go through the material together. Susan also invited the church’s ministry partners from local organizations to participate.
The course challenged the group’s assumptions about poverty in their city. It also brought church members and the local organizations they support together in new ways. One of the most powerful moments was when the group was tasked with writing prayers of lament for the poverty in their city. As they heard one local ministry partner share his prayer of lament, the whole room was moved to tears.
“As a church, we’re interested in our local ministry partners as people,” Susan says. “They’re serving a lot, but they never get served. The course was a really healthy way for us to care for them and enhance our relationships with them.”
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