The Oikos Institute for Social Impact helps congregations strategically respond to the disorienting effects of gentrification, disproportionate unemployment, and changing local demographics by harnessing the power of their assets. Through Oikos Institute programs, congregations revisit their theological and cultural foundations to determine how they might reimagine their relationship to their communities and more fully access their Faith, Intellectual, Social and Human Capital.

In partnership with seminaries, universities, and foundations, Oikos Institute leads a participatory learning experience for congregations to explore their congregational stories, practices, and theologies in light of the changes in their local landscapes. Embedded in the design of these programs is the assumption that congregations require practices that foster alignment between congregational identity, vocation, and public witness. Congregational sustainability in changing environments also requires access to frameworks, tools and resources that help them “learn how to learn.”

The goal of the process is twofold: for congregations to maintain their agency in the use of their assets for mission, and to embrace their role as an agent of impact in the community -an economic anchor institution with a place at the table.

In addition to learning opportunities, The Oikos Institute’s strategic partnership with advisory firm Crossing Capital Group brings additional relationships, expertise, and financial resources to fuel participating congregations’ initiatives.

Regional Fishing Differently Cohort Programs

The Oikos Institute partners with seminaries, universities, denominations, and other partners to create 2- to 3-year Fishing Differently learning opportunities for a cohort of congregational teams within the partners’ region. The partner serves as the program host, leads recruitment of congregational teams from its target community, assists with content delivery, and provides administrative support to the program. The cohort may be sponsored by the partner institution, or The Oikos Institute and the partner may jointly fundraise to support the initiative.

Preparation –6 months to 1 year

  • Confirm program partner(s), and the role and offering of each partner
  • Define target cohort participants and program goals
  • Identify program funding (approximately $150K-200K per year for a cohort of 8-16 teams)
  • Prepare applications and outreach content
  • Engage part-time program manager

Launch – 3 months

  • Announce program opportunity and conduct outreach
  • Review applications and select participants
  • Program launch gathering
  • Fishing Differently assessment of participating congregations

Program Delivery –2 to 3 years

  • Online and/or in-person delivery of Fishing Differently learning modules
  • Engagement opportunities with social impact partners and funders in the region

The Oikos Institute’s Program Support

  • Fundraising collaboration – joint outreach and grant writing with partner(s)
  • Fishing Differently learning module content
  • Part-time program coordinator to deliver content and manage regional engagement
  • Connections to additional potential partners and resources

Partner’s Program Support

  • Funding and/or fundraising collaboration
  • Serve as program host, providing online or in-person gathering space
  • Lead recruitment of congregational teams from the target community
  • Provide administrative support to the program
  • Optional: provide aligned content and/or assist with content delivery

Module 1: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

  • Define F.I.S.H.
  • Know it’s ok to reimagine
  • Identify current perceptions of giving and raising capital in your church

Module 2: Listening to the Stories of the Congregation

  • Gain insight into vocational identity (who are we?) through the stories of our community – sacred memories, pivotal events, key people

Module 3: Celebrating the Faithful

  • Honor our intellectual capital, the gifts of those who are already amongst us
  • Recognize the potential gifts of those who may join us in our work

Module 4: Overcoming the Paradoxes of Restoration

  • Discover and name barriers to engage in the mission weare called to live out
  • Practice navigating difficult conversations

Module 5: Implementing F.I.S.H. in Your Congregation

  • Answering the question, where do we go from here?
  • Identify next steps