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Building Congregational Capacity through Transformative Training

Over 30 years, Partners has established a reputation for developing new tools and programs that assist congregations in making the most of their properties as assets for ministry. Our resources focus on helping a congregation live out its mission by sharing its space, collaborating with its community, and serving its neighbors in new and powerful ways.

The New Dollars/New Partners Training

New Dollars/New Partners is a capacity-building training program that transforms how a congregation sees itself and its place in the community. Through the training process clergy and lay leaders discover and learn to articulate their church or synagogue’s story in new ways, developing a compelling case statement that focuses on “who we are,” “what we have,” and “what we do.”

New Dollars/New Partners helps a congregation lay the foundation for cultivating and leveraging new relationships, allowing them to unleash their unique heritage as a tool for recruiting supporters, restoring their infrastructure, and revitalizing their community. New Dollars/New Partners typically consists of four workshop modules, led by Partners’ staff and expert consultants for a cohort of congregations. Training is delivered over several months to allow congregations to put their newfound skills to work between each session. Partners can often customize New Dollars/New Partners training by matching training specific training topics, along with the number of training days, based on the needs and priorities of one or more congregations.

Congregations that typically participate in and benefit from the training have a sacred place older than 50 years, have capital needs beyond the current financial capability of the congregation, and also possess a desire to deepen their community connections and use their buildings more effectively.

“Working with Partners has enabled us to look at what we do now and what might be possible in an entirely new way. It has been a great motivator and allowed us to think outside the box. Thank you for helping us stretch our vision of how we can use our sacred places for mission and ministry.”

Bellevue United Presbyterian Church

Linking the Congregation and the Neighborhood: Welcoming New Community Partners

Partners works with congregations to identify new stakeholders and develop strategies for connecting the congregation’s resources with the gifts and talents of their members and neighbors. Our programs are based on an Asset-Based Community Development approach, which focuses on the gifts and talents of individuals and the capacity of neighbors and neighborhoods to be producers of change. Learn more on our Community Engagement page.

Sharing Space With Nonprofit Groups

Escalating rents and property costs have led to a shortage of appropriate and affordable space for nonprofits and creative professionals. At the same time, many faith communities operate buildings with unused or underused space, and are open to working with outside nonprofit groups as partners. Partners’ programs build the capacity of both sectors by creating mutually beneficial, sustainable partnerships that bring vitality and a sense of community to historic religious properties through the work of the nonprofit or creative professional partner. These partnerships can take the form of long-term space sharing arrangements, or more limited arrangements, including specific performances.

During Shared Space trainings, Partners helps both outside groups and congregations build sustainable, mutually-beneficial relationships, by learning:

  • how to create baseline rental rates for congregations that fall within outside groups’ means
  • how to integrate the nonprofit group’s aesthetic into a congregation’s mission and look for mission alignment between the two
  • how religious doctrine relates to the nonprofit’s content
  • how to determine cost sharing of utilities and services such as housekeeping, snow removal, and refuse collection

Learn more about sharing space with creative professionals on our Arts in Sacred Places page.

Other Topics

Partners often hosts innovative and dynamic training sessions, ranging from one hour to several days, on a range of topics regarding the preservation, sound stewardship, and active community use of sacred places. Audiences include congregations, groups of lay leaders, design professionals, and local community members. Past topics include:

  • Sharing Space With Community Groups
  • Understanding the Public and Economic Value of your Sacred Place
  • Overview of Capital Campaigns
  • Community Wide Fundraising
  • Rural Church Preservation
  • Adaptive Use of Sacred Places

Resources for Past Trainees

Calculating Your Public Value is an online tool, available only to New Dollars/New Partners trainees and graduates, that will walk you through a seven step process to determine the dollar value of the contribution your congregation and its building(s) make to the community. In order to use the PVT, you will need your congregation’s User ID, which is found in your copy of Your Sacred Places is a Community Asset: A Toolkit to Attract New Resources and Partners.

Sacred Places at Risk was a national study of over 100 sacred places in six cities, conducted with Dr. Ram Cnaan from the University of Pennsylvania and published in 1998, that first documented the contributions that sacred places made to benefit the public at large. It played a key role in defining and energizing a nascent field of study on the public value of religious assets.

After Sunday is a 28-minute video that details the experiences of three congregations that open their doors to serve their communities. The video tells the story of their efforts and takes you inside their buildings for a first-hand look at their programs and challenges.

Why Should We Spend Money On Our Building When There Is So Much Need In The World? Congregations wrestle with this question every time they address their physical plant and its repair, renovation, and restoration. In this audio recording, five religious leaders from different faith traditions – evangelical and mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Jewish – give brief meditations on property stewardship from their own theological understandings.

New Dollars/New Partners: Helping Congregations Maximize their Buildings for 17 Years

In 2003, Partners for Sacred Places piloted the New Dollars/New Partners training program to teach congregations the skills to restore and steward their historic buildings. The curriculum incorporated best practices in preservation, fundraising, and asset-focused community engagement, all taught by [...]

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In response to the need to practice social-distancing, many congregations have partially or entirely closed their buildings. This has impacted their community-serving ministries and programs, forcing many congregations to suspend or alter them significantly. Many congregations also host a range of [...]

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