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Community Engagement

Phase 1: Congregational Assessment  |  Phase 2: Community Engagement  |  Phase 3: Making Commitments

Community engagement is a strategic process of involvement in a particular social group or geographic context (i.e., town, neighborhood, city block) with the purpose of understanding and improving the community’s well-being.

When asked what the greatest command was, Jesus said that it was to love God with every fiber of our being but that the second greatest command was of equal importance—to care for our neighbors, in the same way, we care for ourselves (Matthew 22:37). As congregations, we are called to do the same and the practices of community engagement can help.

We are called to love our neighbors. We can’t love our neighbors in meaningful and relevant ways if we don’t know them. This community engagement process will allow you to get to know, listen to, and learn from your neighbors.


This community engagement process is conducted over two months and is comprised of three phases.

To get started sign up to join a cohort, build a team, participate in an introductory session, and begin selecting and scheduling your activities.

Form a Community Engagement Team  Build a team of at least three people – one person to act as a facilitator, one to document learnings, and one to ensure that updates are regularly shared with the congregation.

Participate in an Introduction Session  Teams from multiple churches will go through this process together as a cohort and participate in an introduction session to get a better feel for the vision, purpose, and process.

Select Activities and Schedule Them  Each church will complete a number of key activities that all of the churches will do. There are also optional activities; your team will be invited to decide from among them which ones you’d like to do.

To learn more, contact Canon for Mission, Jason Evans at jevans@edsd.org.


You have already collected demographic data about the community you will engage with. But data alone is not enough—you need to spend time in your community paying attention to the context, listening to our neighbors, and listening to God. The following exercises will help you discover the good news of what God is doing in your community.

During Phase 2, your congregation will be required to engage in two practices (MissionInsite study and Community Asset Map) and will select from several community engagement practices – including at least one low contact and one relational/interactive opportunity.

  • MissionInsite Study (required): Participants will use demographic data made available by the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego through MissionInsite to begin exploring your community. Accessing this data requires that a representative of your congregation register on the MissionInsite website using the diocesan agency register code (3353D). If you need help with registration, here is a tutorial. Once your registration is complete, you will generate a demographic report on the community around your church. Here is a tutorial.
  • Community Asset Map (required): An asset map catalogs all the gifts—or assets—a community has in the individuals that participate, its geography, and social make-up. Think about your ministry context. Whose names and stories do you know? Where do people live, work and play? Who are the stakeholders in the community? Who is left out within the community? You can download physical copies of this form here.
  • Windshield Survey (low contact): Invite members of your group to conduct a “windshield survey” of the area you have selected. This experiment is designed to guide you towards collecting information about the community by listening to God, observing the neighborhood, and maybe even meeting individuals in the neighborhood. Always go in groups of two or more. You can download physical copies of the forms for tracking your progress here.
  • Visual Tour (low contact): Like a prayer a walk or a windshield survey, a visual tour is an opportunity to walk through your neighborhood and discover what God is doing in this place. From Studying Congregations, “images themselves offer an important way to help others ‘see’ what is going on in, through, and beyond congregations.” After completing a visual tour, it is important to decide how you will share what you have discovered with your congregation.  These images can be shared along with the map you are frequently updating for the congregation.
  • Prayer Walks (low contact): After having driven through your community, it is time to pray through your community. Use the Neighborhood Prayer Walks guide from The Episcopal Church for designing your prayer walks available here. You can download physical copies of the forms for tracking your progress here.
  • Relationship Inventory: As a congregation develops an increasing sense of who they know and who they would like to know in the community around them, they can use the Relationship Inventory form to document the names and relationships of those they now know. You can download physical copies of this form here.
  • Information Interviews (relational/interactive opportunity): An information interview or one-to-one relational meeting is an intentional, well-framed conversation between two people. It is the basic building block of all relational (or community) organizing, a potent tool for community formation and movement building. Use the One-to-One Relational Meetings guide from The Episcopal Church as instruction for these conversations available here.
  • Campus Tour (relational/interactive opportunity): Your congregation has gifts to offer, but it also has needs. It may have physical space but needs financial resources in order to maintain it. The community around your church also has strengths and needs. This exercise is intended to assist you in discerning how your gifts might be paired with the gifts of your neighbors so that however you move forward it is sustainable for all. You can download physical copies of this guide here.
  • Meeting Guide: Download physical copies of the meeting guide here.

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As a next step, your congregation is invited to develop practices and norms for ongoing connection and relationship-building with your local community. This is an essential step for your church if you are to know and be known by your community, grow in your understanding of your neighborhood’s strengths and needs, be a relevant neighbor and community partner, and ultimately be a blessing to your community.

When you are ready to explore an area of focus you have discerned from this community engagement reflection and learning process, you will likely look to a community partner to get started. The EDSD Missioner for Community Engagement will be available to help you consider the next steps for community engagement and partnerships and/or, if relevant, to connect you with diocesan staff, committees, and task forces to serve as resources.

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