First Steps

Faith groups have a unique role in developing projects in communities. We are in for the long haul, having a long-term, sustainable commitment to, and presence in, our communities. 1

Many faith groups will need to go through a process of auditing themselves and identifying their mission before reaching the point of taking action. Links to resources to enable that work can be found here.

When your group is ready to take action, then this toolkit will hopefully be of use.

To start a project, there has to be a decision on what issue, or issues, are to be addressed. Usually these will be those discussed at meetings and gatherings previously. You could have a special church meeting to identify the priorities your congregation wishes to address. You can use the issue sheet, or some variation of it, to identify the issues. If you are planning an inter-faith event, you could use this simple human bingo ice-breaker to help people start conversations.

You can also use the Issues Workshop outline as a method of involving the congregation. This Youth Service Curriculum Areas document may also help your thinking.

You may wish to use the Connexions Assessment Profile to identify issues if you wish to take a more young person-centric view.

It is essential that your project has a clarity of purpose that is agreed by your congregation. This can be drawn from the input of the congregation to the discussion on issues through an Issues Workshop, another engagement method or resolution at a meeting. That clarity of purpose is usually best expressed through a Mission Statement.

You may wish to get commitment from your Church by passing a resolution. A sample resolution is included here.

An initial agreement of roles in managing your project may be useful and, since there is never a need to reinvent what already exists, the Volunteer Development Agency has the clearest and most practical guide you can find.

In order to check your congregation’s ability to oversee a project successfully, you may wish to carry out an assessment of skills, knowledge and ability needed. This checklist is a useful tool to undertake a basic assessment. The CDF publication Tools for Regeneration: Practical Advice for Faith Communities, includes a valuable tool for assessment. 2

Finally, you may decide to formalise your organisation in order to be more effective in running this, and other, projects. The best place for advice is the Charity Commission where you will find Comprehensive information on registering as a charity, including all the publications and forms you will need before you apply. There is a guide there on writing a constitution. I have also included a sample constitution here, which has an additional focus on sporting activity.
You should also look to use your local Council for Voluntary Services or Council for Voluntary Youth Services for support in constituting as an organisation and other issues. Greater Manchester Council for Voluntary Organisations is also an excellent resource.

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1. Tools for Regeneration: Practical Advice for Faith Communities, Ahmed R, et al. FBRN UK, London 2006, p1

2. op cit, p18-21