When asked about Go Local, Kurt Staal describes it as “a journey, not a program.”
Go Local is a Resonate Global Mission initiative that helps church congregations join God at work in their communities. Church members learn about discerning God’s actions in their neighborhood by designing experiments, testing them out, and then reflecting on what they’ve done.
Kurt is one of four members at Westview Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was asked to learn about and try Go Local.
“We were anxious and curious to learn about Go Local to help us improve and grow our missional outreach,” said Kurt.
One key feature of Go Local, he said, is understanding the difference of offering help and the importance of being with your neighbors. Instead of simply meeting people’s physical needs, Kurt and his team were taught how important it is to “become a part of the community.”
Before Go Local, Westview was actively involved in neighborhood outreach and relationship-building in its community. They worked with nearby school C.A. Frost, Blandford Nature Center, and held their “Big Event,” a large neighborhood block party of 800 people.
But Go Local inspired Westview to dig deeper in outreach ministries. They started by going for a walk.
Kurt, along with 16 to 20 other Westview members, split into groups and walked around the community surrounding their church. On the walk, members prayed, talked with community members, and saw things they hadn’t noticed before about the people and places near their church. For instance, the group discovered four different areas surrounding the church, one with especially run-down houses and yards.
“When we took our walk, we saw our neighborhood in a more personal and focused view,” said Kurt. “We asked ourselves: where and what is God calling us to do?”
Experiments like this walk are just one of many ways that the Go Local journey encourages community outreach. But the experiments don’t always succeed, and that’s okay. Kurt recalls another occasion when Westview’s Go Local team tried to put on a soccer night—and failed.
Instead of despairing, Kurt and his team learned some valuable lessons. “We learned it’s okay to fail,” said Kurt. “Be honest with yourself, keep experimenting, keep in tune, keep looking for ways to connect.”
Kurt values the knowledge about embracing community he’s gained through Go Local. “[Go Local] has helped me change my thinking and heart in my approach to outreach ministry at Westview.” He discovered “the difference between doing church and being church,” a lesson he plans to carry with him in future outreach endeavors.
While Go Local was “not without its confusing parts and frustrations,” Kurt believes the experience was life-giving for his church. He and his team are excited about applying what they learned on their journey to their current outreach ministries at Westview.
“God is at work in our church, community, and world, and is calling us to join him in what he’s already out there doing.”
At Resonate, we’re excited about the work God is doing through communities and congregations around the world. Thank you for supporting and joining processes like Go Local that help us strive to be the church.