All hands on deck!
The multi-church cooperative ministry provides a strong foundation for serving the poor. The cooperative brings together a number of churches to share resources, reduce duplication, and improve service.
What does a multi-church cooperative look like?
This kind of cooperative ministry is not new. Strong examples exist in many cities. They differ from place to place, but they have a number of features in common.
- They often have more than one Christian denomination involved. Feeding the hungry is something that all Christians can agree upon.
- Each participating church makes a commitment of financial and volunteer support. An example of this commitment is a monthly donation based on the church’s size. For example, every church might pledge $20 per month for every 100 members.
- One church might provide the cooperative’s physical location.
- The ministry is a separate non-profit from all of the churches involved. This gives the ministry the ability to receive tax-deductible gifts directly. It also protects the churches from legal liability.
- The ministry can include one or more of the following services to clients: food pantry, clothes closet, utility assistance, thrift store, training and education, case management, medical clinic, housing assistance, homeless shelter, furniture assistance.
- A large ministry funded by a church cooperative can support professional staff. This can include professional fundraising staff and program staff.
These kinds of ministries have been very successful and are often the largest non-governmental response to poverty in a given city.
Look for examples.
For some examples of this kind of ministry at work, take a look at these successful ministries:
DCCM – Downtown Cooperative Church Ministry was formed by 15 churches in the downtown Augusta, GA area, and operates a food pantry to meet the needs of the hungry.
AIM – Anderson Interfaith Ministries started when churches in Anderson, SC decided to work together to meet the needs of the poor. They operate a food pantry, provide case management services for people in crisis, offer job counseling and educational programs, and housing assistance.
ACTS – Area Churches Together Serving was created by 20 Aiken, SC churches who realized they could do more to help the poor by pooling resources together. They run a food pantry, provide medical assistance, help with utility bills, operate a clothing closet, provide child care, and have programs to help with furniture and automobiles.
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