We are currently in the process of re-organizing this training and are hoping to offer it again in the fall of 2021.


The certificate program consists of a one-week intensive in-person training and a distance learning cohort. Participants may also choose just to participate in the week-long intensive training. The program is open to clergy, laypeople, community leaders, seminarians, and others interested in organizing and community engagement.

The training provides:

  • an introduction to the universals of community organizing through examples of their implementation in ministry and community contexts.
  • a theological foundation and reflection on organizing universals and public faith leadership as well as congregational development.

This training will articulate a theological vision of ministry that emphasizes leadership development and the role of the church in the current political and cultural moment to help pastors and church leaders navigate the significant cultural changes we confront in the 21st century. The organizing principles and disciplines are crucial for leaders to build the power to lead and change the culture of our institutions and communities.


Hosted by: NEXT Church, Metro IAF, & Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Christ Lutheran Church
Baltimore, MD

Key Leaders: 

Bishop Douglas Miles, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD)
Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, BUILD & NEXT Church
Mr. Rob English, BUILD
Rev. Jessica Tate, NEXT Church
Rev. Paul Roberts, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Ms. Kathleen O’Toole, Metro IAF
and others


  • Teach clergy and lay leaders to apply the basic universals and disciplines of community organizing ​to their ministry contexts.
  • Provide tools for those engaged in the work of congregational transformation,​ new church development, and ​neighborhood/organizational revitalization.
  • Guide participants in theological reflection about systemic change.
  • Spark leaders’ imaginations in the effective use of technology as an organizing tool.
  • Nurture participants as they establish for themselves new patterns of leadership.
  • Connect leaders to an established support network.


Email NEXT Church director Jessica Tate.

Blog Posts

Curious about what our community organizing cohorts have learned? Check out these reflections from our 2017, 2018, and 2019 cohorts.

city power night

God, the Architect of Power

I believe that power, all power, comes from God. Not only is God love, God is power. I think that understanding this truth helps us understand why power can be positive or negative.
hands washing grace relationship

Sacred Agents

Reflecting on a theology of power has challenged me to re-evaluate and re-calibrate my ultimate distrust and rejection of power. My calling to follow after Christ and proclaim healing to the nations is woven together with a God-given power and sacred agency to participate in that restoration.

Stinging Like Salt

While we may not think of power as something “dirty,” neither do we consider it to be more than a tool of last resort. We prefer to live in the world as it should be, rather than in the world as it is. As a result, we feel that the rightness of our ideas and arguments ought to be enough to carry the day — and if not, if carrying the day requires the use of brute force, then there must be something wrong with our ideas and arguments.

Power in Relationship, Community, Hope

There is power in making the choice to stop and notice our neighbor. There is power in recognizing that we are all broken, we all need mercy. There is power in relationship, in community, and in hope.

Relational Power Over Coercive Power

It’s not enough to have good intentions if we want to accomplish good things. In order to act, one has to have power. Broad based organizing is about organizing people and organizing money so that one can act.

Questions Unanswered

To write about power in light of the recent passing of Rev. Robina Winbush sparked me to think about the ways she and the late Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon stood in the fullness of their power, while serving in predominately white spaces.

Confronting and Claiming Power for the Gospel’s Sake

Somehow, in the midst of our best attempts as leaders to challenge the powers and principalities, we have inherently set up a dynamic whereby we’ve locked ourselves out of claiming power. We are supposed to confront power, aren’t we? Name it, shame it, reframe it, but certainly don’t claim it. So how can we claim what we also condemn?

The Ability to Act

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest faith-based organizing network in the US, teaches leaders about power – what it is, how it works, how to build it and use it for the aims of justice. A key teaching from the IAF is that in order to make change in the world as it is, on behalf of the world as it should be, you have to build more power.

The Power of the Church

The timing of Easter – the great celebration of God’s power over death – just before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – whose organizing acumen and brilliant preaching challenged (indeed, threatened) the white majority’s tight grasp on power – has gotten me thinking.
city power night

Power as Fluid

Power is not absolute. The lowly shall be lifted up and the mighty brought down from their thrones. In Christ, all our earthly power is impermanent.

A Theology of Power

Today’s most popular contemporary myths and stories centering around power, and the right use vs. the abuse of power, mirror a similar theology of power presented in scripture.

Organizing in Esther

In this moment, Mordecai shifts from being an activist in the streets to being a community organizer working to create change for his people. Reading the story of Esther through a hermeneutic of community organizing, it becomes clear that principles of organizing are also biblical themes.

Using Power to Make a Difference

I believe Jesus’ words sit well within the context of community organizing, which is the local community coming together which forms an organization that acts in its common self-interest. It is identifying and training leaders as well as mobilizing people to take action towards a common self-interest.

Keep Awake

To sit with what makes us uncomfortable – to not look away, to not run away, to not numb ourselves with food, drugs, alcohol, or shopping. It’s practicing unconditional presence. This is what I hear Jesus saying when he implores us to “keep awake.”

Growing Power by Sharing Power

Building coalitions – both in and outside the institutional Church – is essential if we hope to transform the world for good in the name of Jesus. When we share power, we find that our impact for good grows expansively.

Front Porch Church

Front porch is a way of thinking. It’s an outlook. He says that front porch oriented churches have their eyes on the neighborhood. They spend time getting to know their neighbors, and letting the neighbors get to know them.

Ecclesiology Informed by Organizing

When we use the word power in community organizing circles, we’re talking about something different than the personal and professional power dialectic I was taught as a chaplain intern. The community organizer’s power can’t rest on charisma, and it certainly can’t rest on institutional position.

Getting Out of the Boat

Today’s texts tell us about two organizers: Jonah and Jesus. One more reluctant that the other. Both effective at tapping into their eventual followers’ interests and abilities.
hands washing grace relationship

Power in Relationships

Power is achieved through relationships. Even the achievements wherein million-dollar deals are secured by organizers stand only on the ground of interpersonal relationship — the long slog of getting to know stories and passions, the tender moments where vulnerability leads to collective action.

Always Being Reformed

We worship a God who, through Christ, has made and is constantly making us new creation. We are always being invited to dis-organize and re-organize so that we can be wide-awake and ready to play our orchestral parts in God’s symphony of transformation and reconciliation.