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Finding the Right Project

Step One
Where’s your team?

It only takes one person to start something new, but you can’t do it alone forever. Start by assembling a team of people who want to get more involved with your community. Whether they’re interested in getting new people into the church, helping your community, advocating for change, or all of the above, find a core group of people who will help keep each other motivated and bring their own unique skills to the table.

This is also a great time to speak to speak to your minister, church council and other congregational leaders.

TIP: All the projects listed on Seeds of Hope include a rough guide on how many people you will need to get started.

Step Two
What are your congregation’s skills and interests?

Before you choose a project to take on, it’s important to work out where your strengths lie and what you would most enjoy. These are important concerns – you want to work on a project that makes the best use of your congregation’s skills and abilities, but also one that you will find fulfilling and enjoyable enough to continue working on through tough times.

You should:

  • Ask your congregation what they’re good at, what they think the congregation is good at, and what they like to do. You can do this in whatever way works best for you – meet in small groups, have people write their ideas on post-it notes or ask everyone to fill in a survey (here’s an example).
  • Check your National Church Life Survey summary profile. This is a great way to see, at a glance, who makes up your congregation, what they value most and much more.

Step Three
What does your community need and what can they offer?

One of the easiest way for your project to go off the rails is to pick something that your community either doesn’t need or is already being sufficiently provided. Before you choose a project you should:

  • Research what programs and services are being run in your area. See what seems to be working, what is struggling and what you think is missing.
  • Speak to leaders, groups and organisations operating in your community. Ask them where they think there are gaps, what they need help with and which issues people are struggling with.
  • Access your Community and Social Profile from the National Church Life Survey. These have a huge amount of information about your local area (check out a sample) and provide easy comparisons with your congregation. For example, you might observe that the number of families has increased, that incomes have declined, or even (by checking the amount of unpaid domestic work people are doing) that families are busier.
  • Speak to people. Whether you organise community meetings, phone people or just go door-to-door, there’s no better way of gauging what your neighbours need and are interested in than just asking them.
Corrimal Region Uniting Church

One of the people in our congregation was particularly passionate about teaching English as a second language to adults in the local community. At the time he was involved in ESL classes at another local congregation, but his involvement there was winding up, and he was keen for our congregation to start offering classes. He began talking about this possibility with other people in the congregation, and before long there were five other people in the congregation who shared his passion. Together they investigated what other classes were being offered in the region, and what need there was for another class.

They concluded that there was clearly a need for another class. At this point, Church Council supported them in moving forward. The group organised training opportunities for themselves through connections with other community based ESL classes, borrowed resources and raised funds to purchase resources. In the network of ESL classes and through personal relationships, they also found others who wanted to join in as teachers in the new class.

They worked out the days on which there were no other classes running in the region, and lined that up with their availability and when space was available in the church buildings.

That was the start of Living English Classes at Corrimal Region Uniting Church.

– Rev Andrew Smith, Corrimal Region Uniting Church

Step Four
What are your options?

Depending on what you discover in the previous steps, you should have an idea of what kind of project you would like to embark on. Seeds of Hope maintains a growing collection of guides that show you how to get started on a wide variety of projects.

Before settling on a project, make sure you have suitable answers for all of these questions:

  • Who can lead this project?
  • Do we have the resources (time, money, people) to get there?
  • How does this utilise our congregation’s skills and interests?
  • Is this a project our community needs?
  • Is there another group already working on this?
  • Are there people and groups we can go to for advice?
  • How does this fulfil God’s call and the mission for our church?

Link to project guides

Step Five
Why are you doing this?

This step is the most neglected, but also one of the most important things you need to do. Why do you feel called to do this project? What do you want to get out of it? In all the rush and complicated detail of managing a project, it can be easy to lose track of why you started in the first place. Take some time to write down what you feel called to do, why it’s important to you and what you want to see at the end. Not only will this make it easier to explain your project to people later on, but it will give you grounding of your own when things get tough.

Skills and Interests worksheet
Combine this with your NCLS profile to find out what your church is most interested in and where their skills lie.

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What's next?

Our Getting Started guide has everything you need to get your new project off the ground.