A walk in your congregation’s neighborhood

Date posted: Monday 09 March 2015

by Vernita Kennen


In response to our learnings during the San Francisco ELCA World Hunger Leaders Gathering in January, we took a walk in our own congregation’s neighborhood here in Minnesota. Our respective walks in San Francisco, although more urban than our own congregation, have made us look with new eyes at our church neighborhood and community. (We found more schools and senior living options than we had really seen before!) Here are some questions for you to consider as you walk and/or drive through the neighborhood surrounding your congregation:


  • Where do people gather? What places were empty? 
  • What kind of housing opportunities are in your neighborhood?
  • Are there schools in your neighborhood?
  • Are there other faith communities in the area? 
  • Are there direct social services of any kind offered?
  • Where do people eat? What kind of food is it?
  • How many people in your congregation live within walking distance? Biking distance?
  • How many commute to church? How many live in the same voting district and tax-base as the congregation?
  • Are you a commuter to the congregation? If so, do you spend time in the neighborhood afterwards, perhaps shopping or having a meal?
  • What are some of the challenges for a congregation of commuters? What tools does the congregation have to overcome those challenges?


An assessment like this could lead to possible change in your congregation’s programming and outreach. If that is to happen, who are the people in the congregation who might make that happen? How many people does it take to make change? There are many things to consider – and many possibilities for growth, change, and new ways to minister to God’s children right in your neighborhood.