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Norwich told of keys to community engagement

2013: Spiritual passion combined with professional excellence is the key to successful management of community engagement projects for churches and Christian organisations, a Tearfund-led training day in Norwich heard last Friday (March 8). Keith Morris reports.

 
TearfundJulianBryant450Organiser, Julian Bryant (pictured right), a Tearfund consultant and former director of the Norwich-based Matthew Project, said: “Spiritual passion and professional excellence are key elements of community involvement in our churches, Christian groups and organisations. At times our spiritual passion can be tested and our professional excellence can be questioned.
 
“The Tearfund training day in Norwich is part of a national tour which looks at ways in which we can ensure we can combine, develop and protect our passion for the Kingdom of God and our desire to do things well.
 
“Spiritual passion means an intense desire and motivation to follow God in our everyday lives, including in our work role,” Julian told an audience of over 30 from across Norfolk and Suffolk. “Jesus calls us to a radical dependence upon him.
 
“We need to make sure that we keep the Christian heart of our project or role, always looking up to God, which will enable us to ‘love mercy’ and ‘act justly’ while ‘walking humbly with our God’ as it says in Micah 6:8, without losing our spiritual passion for what we are doing.”
 

 
Tearfund’s UK Programme Advisor, David Vincent, then spoke about Professional Excellence explaining the need for a focus on what we do, the way we do it and who we are doing in for – for God not man, argued David.
 
“We need to gain trust and favour by building up a good reputation and credibility over time through delivering excellence.
 
“We should continually build relationships and not just provide a service but aim to be part of the solution to the issue we are addressing,” explained David.
 
We need to talk about the difference our work makes, help set the climate and not just measure the temperature. We need to invest in continual improvement and quality assurance, not dilute our faith distinctive to gain funding and to build for the Kingdom of God and not our own empire.
 
David also explained that funding sources are available from both Tearfund and the Cinnamon Network.
 
Find out how Tearfund can support your church engaging with the community, or alternatively contact Julian Bryant at julian@julianbryant.co.uk
 
www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/funding
 


 
TearfundEdWalker420Ed Walker (pictured right), who spent nine years working for Tearfund in Disaster Response mostly in war zones in Africa, has since launched a growing charity called Hope into Action which enables the local church to house the homeless.
 
He brought a passionate end to the workshop by talking about Peterborough-based Hope into Action works with local churches to provide homes for the homeless in their area.
 
Using investment capital from churches or their members, plus a close support network and a key worker, the charity has expanded over three years to providing 13 houses and 28 beds, mostly across East Anglia and the East Midlands, including one in Norwich.
 
Successful outcomes are seen as tenants maintaining their tenancies, not abusing drugs and alcohol, not committing crime and improving relationships with their own families.
 
The charity is looking to develop more relationships with Norwich churches and the local contact is Denise Wells work@denisewells.org.uk
 
www.hopeintoaction.org.uk 
 
Find out more about the Tearfund Raising Our Game programme.
 



Workshop participants were enthusiastic about the event:

 
“It was great to meet with others, worship, learn and be inspired by what other are doing and have done. Find your passion, be professional.” Peter Young, Youth Worker Oak Grove
 
“A very inspiring morning that reminded me why I do what I do and also providing a professional framework.” Anna Sweeting, Director, Pregnancy Choices
 
“Really motivating and practical.”  Sue Ginn, volunteer counsellor, foster carer and midwife
 
“It was a really enjoyable day, spent with people passionate about putting their faith into action. The message of ensuring both spiritual passion and professional excellence comes at a critical time when Christian organisations are under pressure to squeeze their faith out of their work. Highly recommended.” Tim Sweeting Chief Executive YMCA Norfolk
 
"It was great to meet with other Christians from a variety of churches all with one goal, to learn more about how to be excellent in our witness to the love of Jesus in practical ways without losing our focus on him. The 3 speakers all brought a different perspective to this area, rooted in the Word of God. The day was inspirational, uplifting and a great springboard: in some cases  to continue to serve God with a refreshed vision and in others to consider new possibilities to advance the kingdom of God." Dan Fisher of YesU  

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