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Churches planted among diaspora communities face unique challenges and rely on partnerships with established congregations to help make their ministry possible—and they also have a lot to offer!

As people move throughout the world, Resonate Global Mission is working with the denomination and church planters to plant churches among communities of immigrants and refugees.

“The diaspora ministry is so important because as people are migrating to a new place, it takes time for them to adjust to a new environment … I think it’s very important to have something similar to home for a good transition,” said John Mondi, a Local Mission Leader for the Great Lakes Region.

John is the pastor of African Community Fellowship, a church that was planted in early 2000 by Resonate (then Christian Reformed Home Missions) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to minister with the newcomers from Africa. In John’s work with Resonate, he supports leaders of diaspora church plants in the Great Lakes region.

Diaspora church plants not only make it possible for newcomers to worship God and learn more about Scripture in their own language and culture, but these faith communities also tend to provide much-needed support as immigrants and refugees navigate a new country and culture including operating food pantries and helping with language learning, finding jobs, schoolwork, navigating government systems, and more.

These communities face unique circumstances and challenges and rely on partnerships with established congregations to help make their ministry possible—and they also have a lot to offer to our denomination! John shares a few ways you and your church can help diaspora church plants flourish:

1. Provide Space for Worship

Church plants often aren’t able to afford to buy or rent a space where the community can gather for worship and other ministry activities. John said one helpful way your church could help meet this need is to “nest” a church plant—give them access to use your building.

“There are churches that have accepted to nest the new congregations. It's beautiful that they can open their doors and allow people to have their service in their building,” said John.

John mentioned it’s great when church plants are able to use sanctuaries and other spaces during times and days that the established congregation isn’t using the building, but he said it’s especially helpful if churches can offer church plants their own space. Whether that’s a space you’re not using in your building or another space entirely, providing church plants with their space makes it possible for the community to use it whenever and however best suits their needs.

2. Team Up On Outreach

It’s likely you and a diaspora church plant in your community share a common desire: to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your neighborhoods and cities. Diaspora church plants and established congregations can learn a lot from one another in this work, and ministry partnerships are a great way to help facilitate that learning while helping to meet needs. Maybe your church can partner with a diaspora church plant on an outreach event. Diaspora communities often have different approaches and zeal for outreach that your church will learn from!

3. Start a Youth Partnership

Many church plants serve both first-generation immigrants who moved to Canada or the United States from their home country, as well as second-generation immigrants who were born in their new country.

“We have first generation and second generation members of our churches. I’m from Kenya, but my children were born here. Do they identify as Kenyan? Do they identify as Americans?” said John.

Does your church have a youth ministry? John said that partnerships between youth ministries of a diaspora church plant and an established congregation can be helpful for young people who are navigating having feet in two different cultures. That way, they are able to be nurtured spiritually from both cultures, and your young people will have an opportunity to learn too!

4. Volunteer

Another way to partner with diaspora church plants is to volunteer your time and skills. Volunteer at one of their ministries or events, or commit to mentoring, discipling, or being a prayer partner with the church planter or members of their congregation. Members of diaspora communities might also need help navigating their new country and culture—learning the language, doing taxes, getting groceries, and more. 

5. Provide Financial Support or Fundraising Trainings

Many church plants are supported financially by Resonate and classes, but they also rely on established congregations to help support them too. Funding from Resonate and classes is set up in such a way that church plants should be self-sustaining in a certain number of years, but because of diaspora church plants’ unique circumstances, that model doesn’t always work with these communities. They might need financial support for a few years longer than expected.

Newcomers aren’t always able to find jobs that pay well enough to support both their families and a church community. They give faithfully, but they can’t always support a full-time pastor in addition to a church plant’s other operational costs. Church planters often end up working a second, or even third, job to make ends meet.

Financial support goes a long way in helping these church plants’ leaders meet the needs of their communities. But if your church plant isn’t able to provide financial support, do you have connections with churches or people who could? Or do you have training or resources available that could help equip church planters and other members of the congregation to raise funds?

Both diaspora church plants and established congregations have unique ways of worshiping God, praying, teaching, and serving their communities. Partnering together in a variety of ways is a great way to build relationships with and learn from one another.

“When you visit other families, you realize it’s the same food, same cooking, but they have a different recipe,” said John.

Do you want to explore how your church can partner with a diaspora church plant in your community? Connect with John Mondi at jmondi@crcna.org