Congregation-based Community Organizing

Congregations involved in community-based organizing have discovered the power of the values and visions they hold in common and are working to transform themselves, their institutions and their communities for the sake of God’s justice in the world.

Many ELCA congregations today find themselves challenged with decreasing membership and dwindling budgets, confronting a culture of individualism, and tending to the effects of a consumer-driven, market economy. While many in religious organizations believe all they can do is address the individual’s pain, provide charitable assistance, and tend to their own institutional survival, some 3,500 faith communities across the United States – including hundreds of ELCA congregations – have ventured beyond their walls through congregation-based community organizing to address the larger causes of the pressures they and their communities face each day. This can be a witness to the fact that we are a church that believes Jesus is God’s "Yes" to us. Our lives can be a "Yes" to others.

ELCA congregations involved in this work employ the principles and tools of community organizing, combined with a commitment to the prophetic traditions of Scripture. Using these tools and traditions builds vitality in congregations and puts faith values into action in neighborhoods, communities and the broader world. At the heart of organizing are leadership development and empowerment, along with an emphasis on relationship-building and a fostering of the "Beloved Community" that Martin Luther King Jr. advocated. Interfaith collaboration is also a characteristic of the movement, as is working together with other institutions and organizations to build more equitable access, influence and effectiveness.