How do you provide a full service ministry if you are a small church whose congregants include busy, busy, busy young professionals and lots of young children?
According to Daniel Xisto, pastor of the Charlottesville Seventh-day Adventist Church, the answer is “you don’t”. What you do is consolidate, focusing on the areas that are the most relevant to your membership AND support those areas as well as you possibly can.
Xisto began by paying attention to who was showing up in church. He noticed the following characteristics among the 80 or so attendees: 25% of them were younger than 10, the majority were young professionals/young adults, and roughly 30 different cultures were represented. He realized right away that this church needed to focus on young professionals/adults and children in a diverse population.
But what about community? What about the networking, outreach aspect of this church’s ministry?
After thought and prayer, what evolved was their version of a Social Justice Ministry. As Xisto explains, “Mercy is feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison. Justice is about effecting change so that people don’t go hungry, are not in need of clothing, and don’t end up in prison.”
Xisto and his membership have developed an annual social justice cycle which begins with listening to stories from the community about “what’s keeping them up at night” and ends with celebrating the achievements gained.
It would be pretty awesome if this social justice cycle was the product of just this small church. However, it is even more inspiring to realize that Xisto and his membership are just one of 27 different faith communities working together to effect change and empower their community. As a result, instead of 80 people asking for help, it is 1000. You can imagine the power that brings to their requests.
The methodology of this social justice cycle is organized, relevant, and produces results. It can be easily adapted to any project which aims to identify a need, investigate solutions, and then ask those who can provide the solutions to do so. Xisto and his church show once again how partnership pays off.