“How do you start a church?” Here’s another answer to that question – do a city needs assessment.

A city needs assessment is when you assess the needs of the city. Way to define a phrase with the phrase huh? It’s discovering what the greatest needs of a city are so that you can serve the city and make a difference in those areas.

A month or so ago, I met with Robb Overholt who started and led a church in Ghent years ago, and he gave me some great advice about conducting a city needs assessment. Since meeting with him I’ve met with 5 or 6 pretty influential people in Norfolk asking them these 4 questions:

“What is the greatest strength of the city?”

“What is the greatest struggle of the city?”

“What is 1 thing you would do to make a difference in the city?”

“Who else should I be talking with?”

I’ve meet with a well-networked, social justice reforming, culture shaping, former editor of a newspaper, the lead curator of the Chrysler Museum, a woman who owns two businesses in Ghent, the visionary and coordinator of the Farm Market, a Crossfit guru, and a woman who has coordinated various art shows in Ghent. I’ve been able to interact with and learn from some really amazing people and the journey continues as my goal is to eventually have met with over 200 people including people in City Council and even the Mayor.

So one answer to “How do you start a church?” is by understanding the needs of the city and then serving the city and inviting people to join in that mission to help make the city a better place to live in because when Jesus is present in a city, it’s my belief that that city should actually get better.