The Community Discovery Package
A new resource from the Innovation Lab
Innovation has always been part of God's story. Discover YOUR community's story and opportunities to develop innovative ministries with the Community Discovery Package.
In 2 Kings 4, a widow in a desperate situation asks the prophet Elisha for help. Elisha does not respond by telling the woman what she needs, but by first asking her what she has. The Community Discovery Package helps you identify assets and needs that are present in your faith community and in your broader community. Along the way, you’ll meet new people, visit parts of your community you perhaps haven’t explored before, and develop a deeper understanding of all that God is doing around you.
Start With Listening
In the story from 2 Kings 4, the prophet Elisha responded to the widow's situation with curiosity, not judgment. He listened first and didn't rush to solutions by essentially asking, "What's going on? What do you need? And what assets do you have?"
Your group will ask people these same questions within your community. We've created a process that will guide you each step of the way.
Explore Your Surroundings
Knowing who and what is present in your wider, geographic community and paying attention to who or what is absent is a BIG part of understanding your community's story.
Members of your group will research demographic and population data, where businesses and other resources are located, housing types and prices, education levels and more.
Identify Existing Resources
The learning journey cannot stop simply at identifying needs and challenges. You'll also be guided to identify all the ways God is at work within your community.
Your group will identify assets around you such as local institutions, skills and knowledge of local residents, local associations, physical infrastructure, economic resources, and historical and cultural resources.
At the Innovation Lab, we believe collaboration is key to innovating faithfully. The Community Discovery Package is designed to be used by a diverse group of at least 5-10 people within your faith community (depending on its size). We suggest the group work through the materials over one month.
You'll meet twice to debrief and discuss what you're learning and discern next steps.
What faith communities are saying about the Community Discovery Package:
"We found all the information very interesting — surprising, delightful, painful, shocking. We had to talk it out a lot. We found so much need among all the assets."
- Rev. Meg Nickles, senior pastor at St. John's Episcopal Church, Powell, WY
"At Faith, we have a lot going on at any moment. I was grateful for the Community Discovery Package because it was something that I could put to use without preparation. I was able to ask volunteers for a very specific time commitment and no one had to spend a lot of time preparing. The tasks also accommodated different styles — one was a more "extroverted" activity and one was a more "introverted" activity. That really helped everyone find a place to feel comfortable."
- Rev. Dr. Laura Norvell, senior pastor at Faith United Methodist Church, Rockville, MD
"When interacting with church members, I will be listening with new ears as to what assets they have that might be able to meet the needs of the community."
-Denise Bryant, church member at Faith United Methodist Church, Rockville, MD
I have a question about the Community Discovery Package...
The Community Discovery Package can be used in a variety of ministry settings.
Individual faith communities and faith-based nonprofits
Seminaries & universities
Note: Licensing opportunities are available if you're interested in using this resource with multiple churches.