I distinctly remember
the first few inquiries we received from churches after completing our Center of Belonging project. The dialogue went something like this:
Church: Hello! We have an aging congregation and aging church property. We heard about the work you did in South Minneapolis. Can you help us?
Flourish: Thanks so much for reaching out!
[Insert church intake form.]
Flourish: As you think about your space and what you imagine it could be, what resources might you be able to access to see this come to fruition?
Church: None. Can you still help us?
As I type this, I realize we are contributors to this narrative, whether we realize it or not. Clarity is king; intentionality the queen. Our language matters.
So we’ve been both proactive and reactive to articulate to churches who we are, what we do, and what we do not do. We are not a bank. We don’t give away grants. We are not million-dollar philanthropists. We don’t own the grove of money trees and don’t have money to simply give out and away to churches. But these early conversations were revealing. With the tithe on decline, deferred maintenance adding up and construction costs on the rise, how can these sacred spaces be saved for neighborhood flourishing? Where would the resources come from?
We do our broken best to operate from a framework of abundance—believing there’s enough for you and me and all of us—but sometimes resources are less accessible. To make matters worse, the [perceived or real] lack of resources quickly rubs against other substantial challenges within our work: church culture, resistance to change and an inability to think outside the box.
We have our work cut out for us, no doubt about it. This is true for Flourish Placemaking Collective and the churches we are honored to partner with and walk alongside. We believe and have seen the beautiful ways in which old spaces can find new life and we believe and have seen the ways in which accessing resources remains a primary roadblock.
The path ahead for us and our churches, and as it relates specifically to resources, will be blazed through discernment and reimagination, two tools impossible to underestimate. The place we want to be is directly through the door we do not want to open. Do we have the courage to go there? To think in new ways? Behave in new ways? Ask new questions? Seek new answers?
Time will tell, but hopeful for what’s on the other side for the ones that do.