3 Cs: Children, College Students, and Churches (Romans 12, Issue 264)
3 Cs: Children, College Students, and Churches
Project Transformation is “a summer out-of school program that brings together the 3 Cs: Children, College Students, and Churches,” reads the website at Laurel Heights UMC.
For 20 years Laurel Heights United Methodist Church in San Antonio, Texas, has offered space for an outreach program for neighborhood children. The program had changed over the years, leading the laity in the church to ask some important questions:
- What are we doing for children?
- What are we doing with the children?
- How is what we are doing helpful to the children in our community?
- Are we doing the best we can for the children in our community?
To answer the questions, the members of Laurel Heights began looking around to see what programs and resources could help them be in faithful ministry with their community.
They spoke with many different government agencies and non-profit organizations. In the midst of this discernment process, members of the congregation met with leaders of Project Transformation, a United Methodist nonprofit organization that engages young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry, supports underserved children and families, and connects churches to communities in need. During the conversations, it became clear that Project Transformation was a good fit for Laurel Heights UMC. It provided a model that allowed the church to meet the children and families where they are instead of expecting the children and families to come to them. Project Transformation provided a healthy model for enabling children to have a safe place to receive homework help, a solid adult presence, and a connection with a church and the people in that church.
Kercida McClain, director of Christian education for Laurel Heights, explains, “We [were] missing a genuine connection with the people in our neighborhood… Project Transformation is designed to connect not just with the children but with the family.”
The laity at Laurel Heights began to explore the possibility of becoming a site for Project Transformation, and a new relational ministry was born. This grassroots-organized ministry provided the foundation for what became a conference-wide ministry with children and families. At the 2015 gathering of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, clergy and laity celebrated Project Transformation as a conference-wide initiative that builds relationships and offers Christ to a hurting world. Through prayerful discernment, active listening, and the willingness to work with others, Laurel Heights found an effective way to use its space as a transformational ministry with the community. What began with laypeople asking, “How can we make a difference” became a conference-wide embrace of an effective and life-changing ministry.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- How are you making a difference in your community? How is God calling you to be in ministry?
- What gifts (space, people, time, money, witness) do you have to offer to your community?
- How can your congregation be a helpful presence in your community?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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