Local Missional Engagement

“We want to connect with our community, but we’re not sure how.”

It’s something we hear often from churches. The RCA has a rich history in global mission, but what about closer to home? Until recently, many churches understood “mission” as something done mostly by missionaries in faraway places.

Our commitment to local missional engagement means that we celebrate and encourage the many examples of RCA churches doing creative ministry with their communities. It’s a renewed focus on mission principles that have always been a part of the RCA. Realizing that churches are making less of an impact in their neighborhoods than they once were, we are challenged to embrace the totality of the Great Commission. We are committed to offering resources, networking, and support to any church that wants to engage in mission locally.

Most local mission opportunities fall into one of three broad categories:

This type of local ministry is often spurred by an immediate need, and includes ministries that feed the hungry, provide aid to those in distress, and offer companionship and comfort to those who are sick or imprisoned. Aid and mercy ministry moves beyond simply feeling sympathy for what is broken. It is fundamentally about compassion—offering our time and talents to address human suffering and need.
If we think of aid and mercy as giving a hungry person a fish, development is more akin to teaching that hungry person to fish. Development is about working with individuals and communities toward a place of greater capability. It is seldom about programs (though programs are often important and typically include some sort of education and mentoring). Development is fundamentally about discovering where God is already at work, and then joining in that work with humility and an eagerness to serve.
The teaching of Jesus compels us to speak for the persecuted, poor, and marginalized. Advocacy involves actively working toward societal change in issues related to immigration, mass incarceration, underperforming public schools, police brutality, and more. Nothing is more discouraging, for example, than to work toward better nutrition in our community, only to realize the people we are working with have few options for healthy eating. Advocacy provides the means for us “to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Want to get involved with local mission, but don’t know how? We can help.

Local Missional Engagement: Get Involved

Is local mission a passion of your congregation? We have several ways to get involved.

Stories about Local Missional Engagement

Partners in Justice

One Brooklyn church takes seriously its place in the neighborhood. A partnership with a nearby synagogue has strengthened that presence even more.

Mental Illness Finds a Place at the Saturday Center

Each Saturday, West End Collegiate Church invites people who need mental or emotional healing to gather for food, fellowship, and a discussion on faith.

Restoring a Safe Haven

“The youth in our community really have no place to call a safe haven,” says Patricia Sealy, pastor of Mott Haven Reformed Church in the Bronx, New York. “It’s been a burning desire of mine to have that happen again at our church.”

Solar Powered

What do the Vatican and a few New Jersey churches have in common? Solar energy.

Serving that Reaches Two Generations

Women at a church in Midland, Michigan, love to bless and support young single moms. “To walk beside a young mom, encouraging her in her life’s journey, is one of the biggest blessings of my life,” says Merci Danielson. 

Danielson mentors moms through Young Livesan outreach program of Young Life that her church, Midland Reformed, hosts during the school year. “We have club two times each month where countless women and men [from churches around Midland] serve as mentors, club helpers, childcare workers, and also provide some of the meals we enjoy each club,” she says.

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