I jumped at the opportunity to write this piece on Community. This is because I personally am wired to connect, relate, and go deep with others – particularly those with whom I share faith and values. But I also felt compelled to write this because I think my history with the LEAD Institute brings perspective on this Orchard value.
Orchard and LEAD came together in 2021 because the organizations both cared deeply about supporting and resourcing newer non-profit ministry leaders. But our strategic approach to doing this work was fundamentally different. LEAD’s strategy held firmly that groups of ministry leaders learn best when in community with other leaders. Orchard’s strategy leaned into meeting the individualized needs that innovative ministry leaders experience when creating and growing their organizations.
With the merger of Orchard and LEAD, we now employee a strategy that integrates both community and innovation. And we deeply value both! Because community and connection were such a big part of what the LEAD Institute desired to create, it makes sense that I raised my hand to author this blog post on why Community is a Gift.
At Orchard, we wholeheartedly believe that community with other Christians is a gift. Ministry leaders need other Christ-followers around them for two primary reasons:
1.To challenge them away from sin and fear and towards what is holy.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
2.To support them when they grow weary.
Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (Exodus 17:11-12)
But I also believe ministry leaders need to look at the communities where they serve and recognize what a beautiful gift THAT community is.
As we work to finalize our Foundations Training module content, we partnered with an amazing thought-leader and trainer in the space of community-centered service. Breauna Dorelus, of Connecting the Cause reminded us that all too often ministry leaders (and volunteers, board members and donors) get wrapped up in a deficit-based approach – thinking about the community and the people served as lacking something or being a problem to solve. Breauna’s teaching shows us another way – it instructs us to approach service of others with an asset-based approach, seeing the dignity, worth, and partnership with the community we serve.
Breauna challenges us to focus our work on elevating the voices of and the beauty that already exists in the community. She challenges us to serve with a mindset of power-sharing, mutual transformation, and opening our eyes and our solutions to systemic issues.
I want to challenge those reading this to consider how they think about the needy in your own community. I invite you to reflect on a quote that Breauna shared with us: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is wrapped up in mine, then let us work together.” (Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson)
Community is a Gift. And as we serve, we are not just called to DO good, we are called to MEET good in the communities God calls us to.