South Joplin Christian Church is sincere in its efforts to meet the needs of those seeking help in the local Joplin community. Sometimes that assistance extends beyond the city limits to smaller surrounding communities in Jasper and Newton counties. Although assisting others in this manner has always been part of South Joplin’s outreach efforts, in 2012 the congregation decided to make changes in their approach to outreach and mission and added the position of a Minister of Mission and Outreach to the staff. Having a staff person in place with the responsibility of administering outreach assistance, among other mission responsibilities. has proven to be an asset for the church. Now the church is better able to manage how outreach assistance is provided and make best use of its available resources to meet more needs. This has become possible through the building of relationships and collaboration with other helping agencies and churches. Working together with others means needs are being met especially during times when the resources of larger helping agencies are running low or have been depleted.
It is impossible for the congregation to know from one year to the next the number of people it will assist. A review of the Outreach records during the past three years reflects the following number of families were assisted with utilities, rent, gas, medical, lodging and auto repair: 2015 – 30 families; 2016 – 39 families and 2017 – 41 families to date. The Outreach Minister monitors available funds regularly to avoid as much as possible depleting funds. There is a maximum amount established for all types of assistance and “guidelines are in place to serve people as best we can and to not enable them – not become a revolving door.” Assistance is provided once in a twelve month period which is explained at the time of the request, realizing that occasionally there are exceptions. Participating in a community data base, Charity Tracker, further helps identify how those who come to the church have been served by other community entities. When unable to help, referrals are made to other known agencies, non-profits and churches that may be able to assist, which involves being knowledgeable of other resources in the community. This helps tremendously in stretching the church’s dollars.
Funding for our Outreach budget is provided by an established percentage of the weekly offerings being funneled to the Outreach budget weekly. A portion of that percentage is then specifically earmarked for local outreach. Additional funds are raised throughout the year through events such as our Annual Alternative Christmas Gift Fair, gifts from the church such as our permanent fund and the sale of Equal Exchange products. Utility assistance is only one of many outreach and mission endeavors of South Joplin. The church is a faith-based partner with Irving Elementary School and throughout the year provides funding for some of their educational initiatives and other activities, emergency requests from the counselor and Christmas needs for families. South Joplin has also been a supporting partner with Crosslines Ministries, a local pantry since its inception 35 years ago with regularly monthly contributions and a food donation challenge to the congregation monthly.
The South Joplin congregation strives to live into their five faith practices of Genuine Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Spirit-led Generosity. Our motto for mission: “Mission in Action – Being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Submitted by Rev. Kathryn Wilson
Minister of Mission and Outreach