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

Feeding Hungry Children One Weekend at a Time

Thanks to one woman's response to God's calling, thousands of school kids in West Michigan no longer go hungry on the weekend.

Your Kingdom Come

Church cooperation is on the rise in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and leading to powerful reconciliation. For a week each summer, churches work together on Jesus Loves Kalamazoo, an effort to engage neighbors and reach out through free outdoor barbecues.

Beyond Spiritual Health

A New Jersey Church tends to both minds and bodies through its holistic health and wellness initiative. 

Connecting through Day Camp

After attending SpringHill Day camp this past summer, more than 100 children made decisions to follow Christ. Many of their families now come to worship at the church that sponsored the camp—the Beecher, Illinois, campus of Faith Church (RCA) in Dyer, Indiana.

The camp has allowed Faith Beecher to build a bridge to the community, especially the junior high school next door.

One Meal at a Time

Walking into Community Church of Keyport at lunchtime is like walking into an episode of Cheers: “Everybody knows your name.”

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