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

Holistic Ministry Makes Recovery Possible

A ministry offering community support becomes a pastor’s new mission field. 

Food and Football

It’s 7:00 a.m. on a brisk fall Friday morning in Fulton, Illinois.

In the darkness, the lights of First Reformed Church shine brightly through the windows. Inside, the smell of bacon frying draws a trickle of young people into the building, talking and laughing as they meet up with their friends and get ready to face the day.

Platform: Handyman on a Mission

Scott Zeilenga reflects that any gospel-minded person, with a few skills and a few tools, can be sent by the Lord to help with the needs of people nearby.

An Appetite for Serving: Community meal creates camaraderie and connection

Jean Browne’s and Jim and Sally Thompson’s enthusiasm is contagious as they talk about the work they are doing at Brookdale Reformed Church.

Hope Next Door

Five years ago, Larry Patow was paralyzed. He’d taken a fall; it happened quickly. Thanks to surgery, a month in a rehab hospital, and two years of physical therapy, Patow has mostly recovered. (He still has nerve damage in his hands.) For the last three years, he’s visited people who haven’t had the same results with their own recovery. 

Connect with the Local Missional Engagement team

Join a learning community or a leadership cohort

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required