By Hannah Stevens, Director of Churches in Missions
On March 18, 2023, Churches in Mission kicked off its 12-month cohort journey with ten congregations from across the country. Each congregation gathered a team of at least five members to engage in an ethnography-inspired listening and discernment process. Their goal was to collect the stories and perspectives of people in their congregations and those who live and work in the church’s neighborhood. In March, each team identified the boundaries of their church’s neighborhood to focus their exploration. The teams will talk to people who live and work in their neighborhood and look at various demographics, such as transportation, school access, and local business. During their time together in March, they also practiced listening skills and conducted their first interviews. Each congregational team began the work with a desire to see how God is moving in their congregations and neighborhoods. They desire to grow in their ability to be good neighbors and are eager to develop new partnerships.
The congregations participating in the Churches in Mission cohort are curious about the people who live and work in their church’s neighborhood. Through this process, they will meet new people and ask to hear their stories. They will receive coaching throughout their discoveries and discern how to respond. Because every church and neighborhood is unique, we anticipate that each church’s response will also be unique. Some churches are in residential areas, while others are in business districts. A few of these congregations are made up primarily of commuters, while others live in the local neighborhood. Faithfully engaging local mission will look different in each context. These teams are on a journey to listen to, be grateful for, and serve well the unique neighborhood in which they dwell.