By: Christa Meland
Is there a community event your church would like to host in order to reach new people? Are you looking for some seed money to start a new program? Is there a piece of equipment that would help you more effectively share the gospel? Is your congregation in need of some coaching in order to help you begin a new ministry?
The Office of Congregational Development’s Investing in Congregations Grant team has set aside $40,000 to be distributed to congregations in the form of “micro grants” totaling up to $2,500.
Since 2005, the Investing in Congregations grant program has distributed larger grants annually to churches that demonstrate a potential, capacity, and commitment to reach new people, grow in love of God and neighbor, and heal a broken world. This year, grants totaling $157,200 were given to 13 churches throughout Minnesota.
But a portion of the $200,000 earmarked annually for such grants remains available for this year, and the Investing in Congregations grant team wants to encourage churches with smaller, one-time requests to apply for this new type of grant. Director of Congregational Development Dan Johnson said the team recognizes that small churches don’t always have the capacity to launch a big ministry plan over multiple years, which is the idea behind the Investing in Congregations grants. The team thus wanted to create an easier process for smaller requests—one that gives more access to more churches.
The micro grants are specifically designed to help churches experiment with innovative and creative approaches to growing vital congregations.
“Offering these grants across the conference hopefully will unleash more creativity and innovation among our church leaders to seek ways to attract and grow grace-filled Christ followers through worship, small groups, mission, and stewardship,” said Kay Roberts, chairperson of the Investing in Congregations Grant Team.
Applications are due Feb. 15. Grants will be given to congregations that seek to spur quantifiable growth in the three gospel imperatives that the Minnesota Conference is focused on: growing in love of God and neighbor, reaching new people, and healing a broken world. Funds must be used for initiatives that will take place in 2015, and preference will be given to initiatives that are new and/or creative.
Grant recipients will be asked to report on outcomes in order to share successes and challenges so that other congregations may benefit from the recipients’ learning experiences.
Decisions about funding will be made in early March, and funds will be distributed when the project begins.
A couple of examples of strong funding requests that have been received thus far: Four Southern Prairie District churches want to work together to start a grief group ministry for the communities they serve. Additionally, a River Valley District church that has a partnership with a local elementary school has requested funding for a community initiative through which snacks would be supplied each Friday to students experiencing food scarcity on weekends. And a North Star District church applied for a grant that would pay for musicians at a monthly ecumenical recovery worship service that it hopes to launch.
What dream would your congregation be able to achieve with the help of a micro grant?
For more information, e-mail Congregational Development Associate Gail Johnson or call her at (612) 230-6125.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church