Regional Grant for Enhancing Congregational Ministry A few years ago, seeking an orderly way to use the growing Struggling Congregations Fund created during the Raise Up Leaders capital campaign, regional staff created a Pastoral Salary Support Program to provide funds on a decreasing scale over three years to help smaller congregations attract and compensate a full-time ordained minister, as they transform congregational life and re-develop the ability to fully compensate a full-time pastor. Congregations receiving these funds agree to engage in intentional transformation activities.
Recently, we have seen opportunities to partner with larger congregations who are struggling to launch new ministry initiatives. Out of these conversations, an idea was conceived for experimental “Enhancement Grants” to help launch new initiatives, and help strong congregations become stronger as they seek to be and share the good news of Jesus Christ, from their doorsteps to the ends of the earth. For the purpose of this experiment, a strong congregation is one that employs at least one full-time ordained or commissioned minister.
The goal of “Enhancement Grants” is to support new ministries in congregations whose strength may be taken for granted, and to help them become stronger, by reaching out to affect the lives of those in the communities in which they reside. Congregations receiving partnership grants are encouraged to “pay this experience forward,” by helping other congregations learn and grow.
The Regional Moderator team will be the Congregational Enhancement Grant Task Force to administer the program. They will evaluate grant requests and make recommendations to the Regional Board, which must approve all grants. They will also make recommendations about taking this program beyond the experimental stage, including program changes.
- No more than 4 ministries will be chosen in the experimental stage. Criteria include creativity, need, and potential to reach people who have no active church connection.
- The region will match congregational support for a new ministry, up to $5,000.
- To be considered congregations must employ at least one full-time ordained or commissioned minister with standing.
- Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- Grants may be disbursed incrementally or in a lump sum, according to the nature of the project.
- Congregations will keep records on expenses of the initiative, and statistics that are appropriate to the new ministry, including at least, the numbers of people reached who are new to the congregation and who have no previous active church connection. These will be reported to the Regional Board.
- Congregations will also collect and share narrative reports that demonstrate the impact of the new ministry in their community. Narrative reports may be published in regional communications, edited as needed to protect the privacy of individuals.
- Congregations receiving these grants are required to report to the spring meeting of Regional Board for three years. This report is due by April 1 and in addition to #6 and #7, will include the status of their new ministry, the ways that its purpose is being met, its effect on the congregation’s overall ministry, and its effect on their participation and support in regional and general expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
- Regional staff may request interim, informal reports for the purpose of evaluating the experimental status of the program.
- A congregation may receive only one partnership grant in the experimental stage.
Follow-up and Evaluation: At least annually before the spring Regional Board meeting, the Partnership Grant Task Force and regional staff will evaluate the experimental effectiveness of the program, according to the stated goals and criteria. Such evaluation will be shared as deemed appropriate. Program revisions may be recommended based on this early experience and, if approved by the Regional Board, may become binding on churches receiving grants.