The church has a biblical mandate to care about people in the community as well as the compassionate example of Christ as He looked out over the crowds. But we know that communities do not necessarily value the kind of caring for which churches are traditionally known. This does not mean that preaching goes away. But churches must find additional, new, positive ways to provide a positive gospel witness into their communities.

Many churches have found community ministry to be a good avenue for developing ongoing relationships in neighborhoods. These ministry relationships are progressive, meaning that one leads to another, so that there is, over time, a network grown which yields a good name for the church, positive evangelism, many converts, and a sense of obedient goodwill.

Understanding our need to care is the first and most basic foundational reality for evangelistic community outreach. The natural place for the church to begin a journey into ministry development is a thorough community study or analysis. A community study will establish several important anchor points.

A community assessment is designed to reveal certain outcomes. Typically these include:

-To refocus church concerns from an inward to an outward gaze
-To support, challenge, or reinforce what we think we know about the church and community
-To help churches see trends, changes, and adjustments in their community
-To bring into the open any hopes or fears that may have been privately held
-To provide a bull’s eye for targeting church ministry
-To locate resources and allies for sharing and creating collaborative commitments
-To affirm our particular concerns into a local, regional, and theological framework
-To provide contacts and materials that help introduce ministry to a wider audience

Assessment assumes that progress is needed through a series of steps… including gathering, reflecting upon, and probing the info. Analysis is done at a deep enough level that a good decision can be made by the church about ministry.

Every community study begins somewhere. It is better to fully document, understand, and define the needs of the community before moving forward to focus on the needs of people.

Let NSBA assist you with questions and concerns about your community.


About tcbo

Tobey Pitman is a retired career missionary. He serves as a Pastor in Greater New Orleans along the northern rim of Lake Pontchartrain. Tobey currently assists churches to understand the needs of their community and to develop ministries that specifically touch local needs. Tobey is a CISM-trained and certified chaplain serving as a volunteer Chaplain for his local police department. He is appointed as the Faith-based Liaison of the St. Tammany Parish Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) and formerly the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Additionally he serves as a Chaplain for the Coroner's Office in St. Tammany Parish. In these roles, he assists in emergency planning and response implementation by directing faith resources into areas of local need during times of emergency and personal trauma. Tobey also served as a ministry strategist for the Northshore Baptist Association from 2010 to 2016. Prior to his service with NSBA, Tobey served for 32 years with the Home Mission Board/North American Mission Board. He worked in Downtown New Orleans and served the broad range of needs that existed among the homeless and addicted people living on the streets of the French Quarter, the CBD, and Downtown New Orleans. This ministry included directing the largest homeless shelter in Louisiana with a capacity of 250. The Brantley Center also offered many kinds of compassion ministries that touched physical needs and provided an average of 600 meals per day. The ministries of the Center included an intensive, long-term therapeutic community for men and women who desired to break free from addictive and debilitating lifestyles. He also developed a church for homeless people called Second Chance Fellowship. Tobey is a native Texan. He is a graduate of Howard Payne University and has earned masters and doctoral degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Tobey is married to Cathy. They have two sons, two daughters through marriage, and six grandchildren.
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