COMMUNITY BASED MODEL
Working "With" vs. "For" the City
We are not just one church or multiple churches getting involved (the church doing this "FOR" the city).
We work hand in hand with government (city, county, and state), education, neighborhoods, media, businesses, non-profits, other faiths and non-faith organizations to make this a community-wide effort (the church doing this "WITH" the city).
We have found by focusing on doing things "WITH" the city, it has opened up new relationships with key people and departments that we never had had access to previously and provided us with amazing evangelism and discipleship opportunities.
To love our cities like Jesus does so that our cities will thrive.
At these community-wide volunteer days, people engage in a variety of projects, including appreciating public servants, visiting convalescent homes, donating blood, building a house with Habitat for Humanity, and working in city parks and schools, among other opportunities.
After the first couple of years of these volunteer days, we were realizing that more sustainable solutions were needed in order to see our cities transformed. Our efforts evolved from beyond a day to championing ongoing volunteerism, collaboration among leaders and initiating the efforts of Love Our Neighbors, Love Our Schools and Love ALL Our Kids.
So many amazing stories have emerged from Love Our Cities, but perhaps the greatest stories are of the thousands who continue to volunteer regularly with organizations and areas they served. This is our hope and prayer…renewed pride in our cities, ongoing volunteerism and communities transformed.
Love Our Cities began out of the success of Love Modesto. Love Modesto started in 2007 at Big Valley Grace Community Church in Modesto, California with two questions:
1) Why is our city on lists of the “worst cities in America”?
2) If our churches were to suddenly disappear from the Modesto area, would anyone even care or notice?
We did not know the answers to these questions, but we knew we were called to love Modesto as Jesus would.
With a lot of dreaming and planning came our first Love Modesto on March 7, 2009. We were hoping for 100 people and more than 1,200 people showed up to love our city in practical ways. We’ve done this 13 more times since then and have helped more than 90 cities. Over 200,000 people have been involved … young, old, abled, disabled; people from a church or no church at all. Around 900,000 volunteer hours have been donated – this is over $23 million dollars in service (independentsector.org) that we’ve given to our communities!
Using a "Pull" vs. "Push" Strategy
Instead of trying to "Push" new initiatives through multiple churches, we've found that by establishing initiatives directly with the city and inviting all local churches to participate, it is much easier to "Pull" churches together and join.
Even if one church is acting as a main "sponsor" of the event, a community wide initiative lowers the barriers churches sometimes have in collaborating with each other. Along the way, churches start to build trust, opening the door for more collaboration and finding new ways for the larger church community, not just one congregation, to love their city.
A CATALYST AND CONVENER
Volunteer Days Set the Stage
Each city that we partner with has its own set of challenges unique to it. In some places, Human Trafficking is a major problem, in other places, homelessness seems out of control.
What we've discovered is that no matter what your local issues are, starting with a city-wide volunteer day is an invaluable resource that will help your initiatives thrive.
Why? Because a city-wide volunteer day acts as a catalyst and convener. It is a catalyst because it is an event that generates a lot of momentum and "buzz" around town. Everyone sees the signs and billboards. People talk about it at church and at work. It provides your city with a great energy to build from.
It's a convener because it starts to break down silos that are all too common in cities (or amongst churches). A volunteer day brings people together, creates dialogue, helps create a place for people to connect and realize there are others like them in their city that want to city their city improve.
While there are a lot of great initiatives we see going on in our partner cities, our leaders will tell you to start with a volunteer day, it will make every initiative you do afterwards a lot easier and more powerful.