Study: Congregations should team up on social service projects

This is common sense, I suppose, but still worth noting…

So many religious congregations struggle to maintain effective social-service ministries in their communities. Especially these days, when money is tight and many houses of worship are scrimping to pay their electric bills, it can be hard to keep soup kitchens, food pantries and other ministries alive.

A new study of 59 agencies founded by religious groups has found that congregations are better off NOT going it alone. Regional efforts, including interfaith initiatives, are the way to go.

Jo Anne Schneider, a prof at the University of Maryland who led the project, explains: “We compared everything from small food pantries directly connected to a congregation to national hospital systems and their local affiliated hospitals. Congregation-focused models work well for mainline Protestants, Quakers and African American churches, but only if several congregations provide support or the sponsoring congregation is sufficiently active with enough resources to support the nonprofit. Jewish and Catholic systems rely on their communities as a whole with the Jewish Federation, Archdiocese, or Order providing centralized support. Some thriving evangelical organizations rely on networks with no formal connections to congregations.”

Again, it’s common sense. The old “two heads are better” thinking.

But many congregations, we all know, are kind of insular and committed to doing things the way things have always been done…

The study, called the Faith and Organizations Project, is being funded by a $500,000 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment.

It’s all right HERE.