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Local community transformation

Where do we start seeing change in our town?

Becoming a public leader doesn't happen by accident, it happens when someone is intentional about what God has called them to.

This personal profile plan has been developed for those looking to increase their footprint in their local community and become a go to’ voice on a local issue. This might involve launching a new community service, campaigning on an issue, or becoming a media spokesperson. The plan can be used by a group of local leaders as well as by individuals. 

Prepare – do the groundwork

Before you start any new projects, you should always investigate what’s already happening. This includes activities run by local authorities, local churches and local charities. 

What to do

  • Existing activities: What projects are already happening and who is doing it? Assess the projects and activities going on. Who are they serving, are they successful, and what do others think of their work? 
  • Speak out: Who’s speaking into public life from a Christian perspective and how’s it happening? Have a look at local news sources and see if anyone appears regularly talking about the issue you’re interested in. Review all aspects of communication from the churches and where they engage with the public. 
  • Turn up: Attending key local public forums – even if you’re not yet ready to say anything – is a good way to find out what’s going on locally. 

Who to connect with

  • Media: Who are the voices in the local media, and what are they saying on this issue? Research local media coverage and identify key figures in your locality: editors, journalists, presenters. 
  • Politics: Who are the local decision makers and what are their priorities? Investigate local political issues and existing campaigns and identify the key political figures, for example your local MP, councillors and council officials. Find out if local churches or church leaders are already meeting with local decision makers. 
  • Church: If you’re investigating starting a project through the church, analyse the church’s track record. Have they been success and starting – and maintaining – such projects in the past? If you’re going to recruit helpers, investigate the relevant skills and experience of people in local churches. 

Top tip: You might be thinking about how your church can be involved in this project, but what about other churches in the area? Talk to your church leadership about how to contact other church leaders, or take a look at the unity movements registered with Gather and Churches Together.

Connect – build the relationships

No matter what you’re seeking to do, relationships are essential to make your vision a reality. 

What to do

  • Existing activities: If you have identified people already involved with the issue you are seeking to influence, meet them and find out how you can support each other. 
  • Speak out: When you have news to report, make sure you keep your church leadership and congregation updated. This will keep your church interested in your project. And if you can tell stories about people you are meeting and serving, sharing their testimonies shows value to those people as well. 
  • Turn up: Relationships are built on trust, so if you’ve said you’ll go to a meeting or event, make sure you do so! 

Who to connect with

  • Media: As you identify local journalists who might have an interest in your project / issue, meet with them to thank them for their work so far. Discuss how you could feed them stories and collaboratively work together to raise awareness. Invite the local media (and local authority figures) to a church or community activity. 
  • Politics: Just like local journalists, make sure you meet local councillors as well as other local authority figures like senior local police officers or social workers. While you may have specific points to raise in the meeting, it is always helpful to start with an attitude of how can I help you’. Ask them what their priority issues and concerns are – and how you might be able to help. 
  • Church: The buy-in of your church is important to give you emotional, prayerful and practical support. If you’re part of a small group, ask them to walk with you on your journey. Talk with your church leadership and ask about opportunities to share your vision with the church. 

Enhance – grow as a voice in your community

If you want to become a go-to voice, it’s essential that you continue to make your presence known in the community. And never stop developing your leadership capabilities. 

  • Turn up and speak out at existing activities: Are there forums where you can promote your project (like a market or school fair)? Can you volunteer at key relevant local events? Take the initiative to contact groups like the Rotary or Boys / Girls Brigade and ask if you can speak to them about your project. 
  • Media: Write a regular column for your local newspaper or contribute a regular slot on local radio – stations are often looking for guests for their Sunday morning shows. If God is calling you to this work, maybe it’s okay to miss church once in a while. You could also write a press release about an event or programme the church is running.

Top tip: Even experienced professionals can get a media engagement completely wrong! Consider attending a media training or public speaking course to build your confidence and skill in media engagement.

  • Politics: Explore political party membership and activism – find out more about getting involved at www​.chris​tiansin​pol​i​tics​.org​.uk.
  • Church: Investigate Christian events and courses that will help you to develop a Biblical and theological grounding for your work. Read about building a Christian worldview and understanding discourse and developing leadership skills. These books may be useful: 

This article features in the Change the World small group course. Find out more.

About the author

Abi Jarvis is the public leadership coordinator at the Evangelical Alliance, seeking to equip Christians with the skills and confidence to be leaders in the places where God has called them. She has a BA in Ancient History and a MSc in Political Communication. Abi loves going to the theatre, watches too many American TV dramas and somehow became responsible for daily office exercises despite her hatred of all things sporty. Much to her dismay, she ticks the box for pretty much every stereotypical feature of a PK - a pastor's kid.

See more from Abi Jarvis

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