Church cooperation is the cornerstone of the Next Steps of South Carolina (NSSC) Next Step Program. We build that on the premise that Christian churches should work together to make a difference in their community—and be enriched in the process. “Cooperative Churches” own their Next Step Program Affiliate and provide the core support for the Program by sharing their congregations’ time, talent, and treasure.
Church cooperation is most effective when it includes the support of the congregation’s pastor, governing board, and outreach/mission committee. Ideally, the governing board adopts a resolution committing the Cooperative Church to partnership with the NSSC Next Step Program Affiliate.
In addition to the Volunteers who operate the Next Step Program, each Affiliate needs a Cooperative Church Council composed of two representatives from the community’s Cooperative Churches.
Cooperative Churches appoint their members to fill vacancies on their Affiliate’s Cooperative Church Council. Initially, the Council meets monthly, but over time they will meet quarterly.
At their meetings, Council members receive and develop a plan to implement the NSSC Board of Director's decisions (the Board and Council receive a report from the Affiliate’s Next Step Program Directors and use it to make decisions concerning policies and operation of the Affiliate) which may include requests for financial assistance, materials, forming new ministries to help Participants make improvements in their lives, etc. Council members serve as their congregation's liaison to the Affiliate’s Next Step Program by sharing news about the Affiliate’s activities and encouraging Church support for the Affiliate.
Besides providing Volunteers to operate their Affiliate’s Next Step Program and serve on the Council, a community’s Next Step Program Affiliate also needs Cooperative Churches to work together to:
- Contribute to the operating expenses of their Next Step Program, e.g., direct assistance to Participants to help them make positive changes in their lives, printing Next Step Program literature; acquiring office and hospitality supplies; paying Volunteer insurance; etc.
- Support their Affiliate’s Next Step Program in a variety of other ways by:
- Including prayers for the Affiliate in their worship services.
- Hosting community-wide awareness events such as 5 K runs/walks, bike races, bake sales, to help educate people about homelessness and poverty.
- Participating in fund-raisers for the Affiliate, e.g., garage sales, tee-shirt purchases, dinners, concerts, sports tournaments, etc.
- Hosting an annual Christmas party for Next Step Program Participants and their families—a wonderful way for parish families to become involved with families of those they seek to serve.
- Adopting community transitional housing or Habitat for Humanity projects that to provide apartments and/or houses for Participants’ families.
- Sponsoring clothing, food, and toiletries drives to help provide some of the basic necessities for Participants.
- Referring their neighbors in need to the Next Step Program.