Congregational Leaders Exploring New Ideas to Deeply Engage Communities

EHF’s Congregational Engagement team is proud to announce two exciting new pilot programs designed to increase the effectiveness of existing ministries. This Fall, we’re launching two new cohorts focused on combating poverty through relationship building and best practices: the Poverty Transformation Cohort of churches and the new Holy Currencies Idea Incubation Cohort. These are two different approaches to help congregations better understand the communities they serve and tailor their ministries to those communities.

The goal of the Poverty Transformation Cohort is to help congregations move from charity-focused, transactional ministries to more transformative, community-engaged ministries. The cohort will encourage congregations to engage in conversation and cultivate partnerships within their communities. Five congregations (several are teaming together) are part of this initial effort:

Texas A&M Canterbury (partnering with St. Francis, College Station)
Bryan/College Station (partnering of St. Andrew’s, Bryan; St. Phillip’s, Hearne; and St. Thomas, College Station)
St. John’s, Sealy (partnering with St. Mary’s, Bellville and St. John’s, Columbus)
St. Mark’s, Austin
St. Paul’s, Navasota

These churches and church groups are looking to enhance their service ministries with help from consultants and each other. Congregations will participate in multiple sessions with leading practitioners in direct service ministry and innovation. They will then choose one of the presenters to consult with them for the remainder of the cohort on their specific existing ministry. At the end, the congregations will all have reached out to the communities they serve to build new relationships that will inform and enhance how they do ministry.

The 2021 Holy Currencies Fall Idea Incubator Cohort provides an opportunity for congregations to develop ideas for initiatives that work alongside their neighbors to create healthy communities for all. The process teaches the six currencies needed to build a sustainable and shared ministry.

Churches often focus only on the three currencies of time and place, money, and gracious leadership. However, without the additional currencies of wellness, truth, and relationship, ministries are not fully missional or sustainable.

“A missional and sustainable church invests its currencies of time and place and leadership to relationship-building outside the existing membership, and only by doing so will the church be able to listen and advocate for the truth in the wider community,” says the Rev. Eric Law, Founder and Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Institute and creator of Holy Currencies.

One unique ecumenical team from Bastrop County is participating in the Holy Currencies cohort. It’s comprised of leaders from area churches who are currently working with Bastrop County Cares, a local non-profit working to improve health county wide. Calvary Episcopal Church will serve as the coordinating congregation. Other participating churches include Mount Pilgrim Baptist, Straight Gate Fellowship, Bastrop Christian Outreach Center, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Family Worship Center, Cedar Creek UMC, First Presbyterian Elgin, and Celebrating Life Church.

Episcopal churches participating in the Holy Currencies cohort include:
Christ Church, Temple
Grace, Alvin
Holy Trinity, Dickinson
Northside, Houston
St. Michael’s and All Angel’s, Longview

Participation in both the poverty and Holy Currencies cohorts will also prepare congregations for applying to the 2022 Holy Currencies Ministry Incubator if they choose to do so. The Holy Currencies Ministry Incubator is a deeper dive into the Holy Currencies framework where congregations create a detailed ministry plan for their work in the community.