NEXT STEP PROGRAM
The Next Step Program, offered by Next Steps of South Carolina (NSSC), is a 100%-Volunteer based, Christ-centered, mentoring ministry. It promotes change, dignity, and self-reliance in your neighbors living in emotional, physical, and/or spiritual poverty. The Next Step Program is a self-help, “hand-up” program; not a “hand-out” program. It is available at no cost to all Christian congregations in South Carolina.
To get insight into the NSSC Next Step Program, click “videos” on the left panel of www.NextStepsSC.org to view a:
- 15-second video featuring homeless people who, with your help, can become Participants in the NSSC Next Step Program (“15 Seconds on NSSC”),
- 3-minute video inviting your Christian congregation to help form a NSSC Next Step Program Affiliate in your community (“Introduction to the Next Step Program”), and
- 15-minute video telling you the NSSC Next Step Program story from the perspective of Volunteers and Participants (“About Next Steps of South Carolina”).
The Next Step Program is available to your community in three easy steps:
- First, NSSC presents the Next Step Program to pastors of several Christian congregations in your community.
- Second, with their pastor’s approval and cooperation, NSSC trains several Volunteer lay members of each of these congregations (we call them “Cooperative Churches”) to work together to help your neighbors in need make positive changes in their lives.
- Third, NSSC works with these trained Next Step Program Volunteers to organize and operate your community’s Next Step Program “Affiliate.”
Each Affiliate consists of five teams of Volunteers supporting two team of Mentors: Samaritan Mentors and Lazarus Mentors. The five support teams include:
- Reception Team,
- Communication & Outreach Team,
- Volunteer Recruitment & Development Team,
- Database Management Team, and
- Space & Systems Team.
Each Affiliate has two Program Co-Directors a Cooperative Church Council to oversee its Next Step Program. The Program Co-Directors report to the NSSC Board of Directors. Your Next Step Program Affiliate operates out of one or more of your community’s Cooperative Churches and we call these the “Host Cooperative Churches.”
When people in poverty schedule an appointment to visit your Next Step Program Affiliate at the Host Cooperative Church, Samaritan and Lazarus Mentors work with them to make positive, enduring changes in their lives. Mentors help these Next Step Program “Participants” set personal, life-improving goals; and help them achieve each goal, one step at a time. Participant goals involve employment and social services, such as referrals for employment, skills training, resume writing, education, housing, obtaining government-issued identification papers, mental health and counseling, substance abuse and treatment, grief support, health service and information, and much more.
Most Participants have incomes below the poverty line and many are homeless or at significant risk of becoming homeless. Mentors work with Participants as long as they need help and want to participate in the Next Step Program. Mentors help Participants take each next step toward each goal by providing them encouragement, needed information, referrals, and, above all, friendship, e.g., the assurance that someone cares about them and will be there for them, every step along the way, to an improved life.
This approach helps Participants to succeed by overcoming barriers to the achievement of their personal goals. Many Participants don’t feel like they have a track record of success when they first come to a Next Step Program Affiliate. Over time, the Affiliate helps them identify their strengths and build on them, one conversation at a time, one prayer at a time, and one step at a time.
The NSSC Next Step Program vision is to transform lives through Jesus Christ, one conversation at a time.
The NSSC Next Step Program mission is to serve as a Christ-centered, all-Volunteer ministry that uses the Next Step Program to inspire and equip members of Cooperative Churches to work together to help people in poverty in their community make positive changes in their lives: (a) emotionally by listening to their hopes and fears, (b) physically by linking them to employment and social resources, and (c) spiritually by sharing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Through the Next Step Program, Cooperative Church Volunteers are obedient to (a) Jesus’ Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) to love God and neighbor and (b) Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to make disciples of all people. Over time, Next Step Program Volunteers invite Participants (a) to their congregation’s social events, (b) to their church’s worship services, and (c) to know Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior. The NSSC Next Step Program not only save lives, it saves souls.
The Next Step Program improves the lives of everybody involved—both Volunteers and Participants by:
- Promoting awareness of community needs,
- Fostering cooperation at all levels,
- Breaking down barriers imposed by poverty, and
- Developing Participants’ abilities to help themselves to better lives.
The NSSC Next Step Program is an Internet-based ministry. Our two websites are:
- www.NextStepsSC.org where, using the panel on the left, you can keep up with:
- NSSC Next Step Program-related dates on our calendar,
- Current and future NSSC Affiliates’ locations on our map,
- NSSC documents for organizing and operating an Affiliate in our resources.
- www.SouthCarolinaMinistries.org where you can access these NSSC Next Step Program-related databases where Mentors keep track of their Participants’ Goals and Next Steps.
- Charity Tracker Plus is a secure, online database offered by United Way of South Carolina in many SC communities. Trident United Way (TUW) offers it in the Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley County area.
- MembershipEdge is available in SC Counties where Charity Tracker Plus is not available. It is a secure, online church management database tailored to accommodate the database needs of the Next Step Program.
- 2-1-1 Hotline Database is funded by United Way of South Carolina and helps NSSC Next Step Program Lazarus Mentors access employment and social resources for Participants. It lists 6,000 such resources through SC and 1,200 in the tricounty area of Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties.
NSSC hopes to help churches within South Carolina to (a) do more together than they can separately and (b) go beyond providing emergency assistance to their neighbors in need. To do this, we adapted the Next Step Program developed by Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW) (www.SamaritanMinistry.org). NSSC also used components of the Lazarus Ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA (www.HistoricChristChurch.org) and The Cooperative Ministry, Columbia, SC (www.CoopMin.org) in developing the NSSC approach.