community engagement:  ideas + examples

lockdowns + social distancing won’t last forever!
here are specific ideas that Baptist women, groups and churches have tried since the start of the pandemic

connect with your community + build relationships

school lunches – Kingsville and Banwell Baptist, Windsor, have had good success. (This may even grow into other things like providing backpacks with school supplies for back-to-school.)

local shelters + social service organizations – ask them what they need. Donated items e.g. food, toiletries, knit wear? Volunteers?

food security – partner with local organizations involved in this area like food banks, the Salvation Army, community health organizations. Ask them about joint projects e.g. the Peterborough Food Action Network.

meet a specific need

Niagara Falls, First Baptist Church – members recognized that music positively affects people with Alzheimer’s. The church partnered with a local mental health association for a hymn sing with participants which was led by the church choir director while caregivers were hosted in a different room.
(You could include a workshop or just make this a time for much-needed self-care.)

Puce, First Baptist Church – During 2020’s Christmas season (COVID-Christmas), women missionaries sang Christmas carols outside the windows of seniors’ homes and left a small gift bag on each doorknob. Read more in the March-April 2021 issue of live magazine. Subscribe here.

Toronto, Oasis-Dufferin Community Centre – hosted a “take out” community dinner

help the poor

St. Catharines, Queen Street Baptist + Peterborough, Murray Street Baptist – take part in their communities’ Out of the Cold programs, providing food and shelter to the homeless one night each week.

Amherstburg Regular Missionary Association (ARMBA)
-holds a Walk for Mission, raising money through sponsors while collecting donations for food banks.

-during the pandemic, held a monthly Soup and Sandwich, coordinating with local Social Services and the Salvation Army to find people temporarily housed in hotels and delivering food to them.

Chatham, First Baptist  – pre-COVID, women missionaries held fundraising lunches on the 5th Sunday of the month, collecting donated items for local organizations based on their needs.

 

organize a summer children’s ministry

Hamilton, Harmony Baptist – has used a government student jobs grant to hire a supervisor for a day camp for local children.

Atlantic Baptist Women – regularly organizes roving Vacation Bible School teams. Teams spend each week of the summer in a different small town. They lead kids’ programs at churches that don’t have the numbers (or youth) to run these programs on their own. Here’s our child protection policy.
This would be a good candidate for government grants for student jobs.

 

host a young mothers’ group

simple
some churches/groups have children stay with their moms for songs/rhymes and then everyone has a snack together

elaborate
other groups have a specific play time or program for preschoolers, using their nursery facilities and with carefully selected leaders while mothers have a speaker or craft. (Be sure to have a good child protection policy in place.)

supporting mothers – pair each new mother to the group with an existing member. These mentors:
call before each event with details
help new mothers overcome barriers (e.g. organizes transportation if necessary)
meet them at the door and stay nearby during the event so they don’t feel lost
answer questions

Over time, these relationships can grow into spiritual guidance as well as mentors ask for prayer requests and ask about their spiritual backgrounds.

 

offer prayer

Hamilton, Mount  Hamilton Baptist – offered drive through communion and prayer

prayer walk around your neighbourhood (or your church’s neighbourhood) several times. Click this for more resources.

gather prayer requests
organize people in pairs to knock on doors. (Do not enter any houses. Have at least two teams per street.)
each team:
a) explains that they are from XXX Baptist Church
b) asks if people in the house have anything they could pray for
c) asks if they would like them to pray now. If yes, the team prays simply at the door, taking care only to pray blessings, not praying anything that could be interpreted as offering judgement or advice.
d) follows up some time later to ask about the previous situation and if the household has any new requests

 

organize a short-term in-Canada mission team

volunteers needed:
Many times, our partners like Oasis-Dufferin Community Centre and the Matthew Houses for refugees really do need a fresh infusion of volunteers:

renovation + painting projects
leading practical or spiritual growth workshops
running a children’s program

cross-cultural opportunities may be available:

Spanish – contact Oasis-Dufferin Community Centre, Toronto
working with Muslim peoples – Dixon Ministry (GTA)

download information on how to organize an in-Canada, short-term experience (coming soon!)

learn from others

join with other churches in your area
have a look at what TrueCity has done – https://www.truecity.ca/history

check out Disciple a City at https://discipleacity.ca/outreach/evangelism-tools/
(this site has a video on how to develop a 15-second testimony. They also have a presentation called 3 Circles for situations where a structured presentation of the gospel would fit.)

read GodSpace: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally by Doug Pollock
Or…study it in the next cohort of Complete!

your community engagement idea goes here

how did you reach out to your community during the pandemic? how are you reaching out now?
share your story with us