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  • Hannah Williamson

Quickly putting together a new project

So many of us are facing new challenges as we are walking through this season. Churches are having to quickly think through new ways of ‘doing church’ or more accurately ‘being the church.’ One year ago, I don’t think any of us were coming up with a strategic plan of how to run church during a global pandemic!

Over the past 3 weeks I have had the privilege of putting together a social action project for our church which is helping to feed many people in our town who are struggling during this season. I love being able to put together a new project, thinking through the purpose for it, the values as to why we do it, mobilising a team of volunteers and setting up a system to make it work. However, I have never had to put together a project so quickly! It has stretched me like never before. I have tried to take some time out today to think through what I am learning through this that could help me in future projects….

 

1. Have a store of ideas and plans ‘just in case.’

I journal every day and there have been times where I have written up ideas and thoughts which I have genuinely thought I would never use, but I’ve jotted them down anyway! I find that God often drops ideas into our hearts as we spend time with Him and the best thing to do is to write them down as you never know when they might be needed. This happened to me with our social action project. I am so glad I made notes beforehand so that I could turn back to them when I needed to quickly think through how to start this project.

2. Find people who know more than you and get them around you.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been in a position where I have not had enough money. I have never known what it is to have to go to a food bank. I don’t know how the benefit system works. I don’t know what types of food certain religions eat and don’t eat. As I started on this project of opening a food bank, I realised how little I knew! I needed people around me who were far more knowledgeable, so I went out and found them. On our team we have one woman who works in the benefits system and one woman who has been in a hostel and had to get food from food banks to keep her going. I have had to be honest about my lack of knowledge and get them to help!



3. Investing in relationships over the long-haul enables you to quickly build a volunteer team.

I have been grateful in setting up this project that I had conversations with the people now on my team over the past few years. Not conversations just when they were walking past me in church, but conversations which allowed me to get to know them. One lady on our newly formed team had a nephew who had been in trouble with the police when I was a Youth Pastor…we had shared memories of coming through that. This created a sense of trust as we worked together on a new project. Although that story is not the same for everyone, I realised how much easier it was to start with a team of people who I knew and could trust. This can’t always be the case, but it definitely helped when starting a new project quickly.

4. Flexibility is key

Generally, when you have a long run up to starting a project you can think through lots of eventualities and work out how to start well. When you have little time to start something you are unlikely to be able to think about everything, you just need to get going! I have learnt through starting this project that I may be clear on some things from the start – e.g. values and vision, but there are lots of things that may need tweaking over time as we learn. An example is that I did not anticipate so many people not speaking English – I guess I should have known living where I live! We’ve had to quickly work on translating an explanation of who we are and what we do into multiple languages!



5. Set up some clear structure from the start

I love having structures in place….I think it’s important to help prop up the project you are doing and it makes it clear for those serving alongside you. I read in Brene Brown’s recent book ‘Dare to Lead’ - ‘clear is kind, unclear is unkind.’ Simple but oh so true! I may have had little time to pull this project together, but I’ve worked hard to set some systems in place. It’s paying off as people know what to do and can easily jump on board to serve. Structures don’t stay the same forever as projects naturally grow, develop and change. However, they are still vital to help things run and work smoothly. I think it’s worth investing time in thinking through structure even if it’s just some simple small systems in place to start.

6. Always plan to raise leaders, even from the beginning.

I love being able to see new people take on responsibility and run with their gifts. As we started this project quickly, I didn’t want to put people in positions of leadership too quickly but let them flourish first and then gradually give out more responsibility as we go along. I did however have a plan in place and thoughts of potentia

l leaders from the start. That helps me to be a little more intentional in my thinking about who could take on more responsibility and who I can help teach. The benefit of this is that it means the project doesn’t rely on you. If you have to move on to a new project that quickly needs starting you can hand it onto someone who knows what they are doing as much as you did!

 


I love the book of Nehemiah in the Bible. In my opinion Nehemiah was a skilled leader. I think he understood all the above things. It would appear he had some thoughts on what could happen before he even went to the King to ask to go back to Jerusalem. He got the right people to help him – i.e. the king who could help him to get favour from certain people on his journey! I love the fact that Nehemiah in chapter 2 v12 ‘set out during the night with a few others,’ in order to see where things were at before the project was to start. I’m sure he didn’t randomly grab some people to come with him. He was too much of a strategist for that. Nehemiah had to be flexible because things happened that he wouldn’t have been able to necessarily anticipate, like the opposition! Nehemiah had clear structures. I love reading of all the different people who got on board in chapter 3 and how they all had certain parts to play. Leadership was also important because of the amount of people. We can see in chapter 11 a list of the leaders of the families.


I trust that you, like me are learning much when it comes to putting together some projects quickly – there is a lot of need out there and it may be different to the need that was there 6 months ago. Why not take some time today to think through how you can ‘be the church’ and get working on some God filled plans.






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