What’s our “Next Step”?

By Nick Cocalis, co-Founder and Missions Director

One of the more popular questions I get asked is “how do you choose your new sites”?

The answer is a complicated journey of questions, prayer, growth and one thing we’ll never do again.

When I was asked this question five years ago the answer was simple.  Our leadership team would identify an area that we saw a great need.  This could be a community struggling with poverty, isolation, disaster or economic troubles.  We would then discuss if it was a place where students would want to go.  And if those two things checked-out, we would reach out to organizations and leaders in the community to see if we would be welcome to town.

It was a pretty simple process, and on the surface sounds like a pretty good game plan right?

But as we started to venture through our learning and understanding of community development, we discovered that community development must start from the very beginning.  If we wait until we are serving “in” a community, we are too late.

See, by the very nature of Next Step approaching a community for partnership, it set the parameters for our relationship, whether we knew it or not.  By Next Step approaching a community it framed us as the savior and the community as the saved.  It depicted us as the hero and the community as the lost.  It gave us the image of having the assets and the community the image of the needy.  Us the rich, community the poor.  You get the picture.

So as this transitional process of becoming a community-based mission organization continues, we are excited to share that we are trying to start community development from day one.  No longer approaching communities to come serve on our terms, but rather, sit back, pray, and wait to be invited into a sustainable partnership where we can share our resources and make a difference together.

For us, this means re-prioritizing and taking things off of our terms.  Our next community partnership may not be where we thought it would be, or even where we want it to be.  But one thing is for sure, our next partnership will be just that: a partnership.

So how will we choose our new sites for next year?  I’m not sure yet.  But I look forward to the journey.

Next Step Ministries