Just like many denominational offices and churches across the country, the Gulf Central District of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church thought they knew their community.
The problem: what they thought they knew wasn’t quite accurate.
“Many of our churches had become somewhat isolated from their community,” said Beth Potter, congregational vitality. “They were doing mission work that felt good to them but wasn’t bearing a lot of fruit. There was a mismatch between what they perceived their community to be and the reality of it.”
That disconnect between the perception and reality changed quickly when they began using MissionInsite. With it, the Gulf Central District and their 80+ churches began to get accurate demographic information about the people living around them.
“We think we know who’s around us. But we really don’t until we begin looking at something like MissionInsite that has really effective tools to shed light on who our neighbor is,” said Maggie Corrigan, business administrator. “We’re to be in ministry with our neighbor, but who is our neighbor? MissionInsite tells us that.”
Several churches in the Gulf Central District use the information to understand the communities. They want to better connect with and serve the people living there.
“MissionInsite has become a great place for us to understand the community so that we can then help guide the congregations to see new ways to do missions,” Potter said. “MissionInsite is a vital tool that I need in congregation vitality as well as our churches need to do ministry.”
Corrigan remembers one church in particular that originally doubted the results of their MissionInsite report that claimed their community had a large Hispanic presence. After working with the district and their MissionInsite report, that same church is now making huge efforts to reach the Hispanic population in their area.
Another one of their churches has been a rural church for most of its years. New homes are being built so they are starting to experiencing significant growth in their community. They’ve been using MissionInsite a lot recently to stay relevant to the population that is moving into their community.
“The majority of our churches are filled with faithful, loving people,” Potter said. “They just don’t know the needs of their community. With MissionInsite, we’re able to talk to them about what’s really going on in their community and how they can make an impact.”
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