Transformative Collaboration

HOW CAN THE RESOURCES of STCH Ministries, and the awesome potential of healing and restoring, impact the ocean of needs we see in the world around us? The Archimedes principle states that the water level will rise related to the weight of our ship. Will a bigger boatload of resources affect the level of needs that surrounds us? Or is there another answer in our quest to impact a world for Christ? Weighty questions, loaded with potentially complex answers, and equally complicated solutions. Yet a query that has hovered around the edges of the calling God has given STCH Ministries from the beginning.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Eron Green, STCH Ministries has expanded the opportunities to meet needs in the world around us. From its origins of providing a home for children as South Texas Children’s Home to our current identity as STCH Ministries, we additionally provide homes for single moms and their children, Christian counseling, pastoral support, international missions and child sponsorship, classes like Faith & Finances and Faith & Work that support churches and other ministries in their outreach and discipleship efforts. The mission has always remained the same, “Honoring God, reaching children and families with His love and truth, and enabling others to join us in this ministry.”

As we seek to follow God into a future that only God can see, Eron has questioned, “We always knew the needs were great, but is there a more standardized and systematic way of connecting individuals in need with the resources already available to them in their own communities? Can we impact the level of need around us through more effective collaboration?”

He continued, “We have always worked in partnership with churches and organizations that provide resources to alleviate poverty, emotional distress and spiritual distress. Can we also help to create a path for STCH Ministries to strengthen the outreach and the transformative power of both the local church family and organizations that offer resources such as food, clothing, counseling, job training and emergency shelter?”

We began prayerful conversations on creating a systematic approach to connect people, organizations and resources. How can we more effectively cooperate with the eternal purposes of God in restoring all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20)? Through research and consultation, we have identified four distinct, yet similar, pathways to more effective collaboration—Bridging, Interconnecting, Equipping and Partnering.

The Bridging pathway will develop an extensive list of resources that enables a specialist to connect available community assets to the relational and practical needs of individuals and families. Our existing strengths and partners already provide early bridges that can link a family beyond basic resources to lasting hope through gospel conversations. Staff member Heidi Hettler affirmed, “Our existing ministries help individuals to repair ‘broken-down walls’ that have allowed destructive habits to gain control, compromise safety and break relationships.”

These vital relationships establish trust and develop the opportunity for more conversations that can offer spiritual direction, share the gospel and point them to a local resource or to a church that offers stability and the opportunity to grow in faith through discipleship.

The Interconnecting pathway will seek to interlink those already involved in one ministry department within STCH Ministries to additional facets of ministry. Perhaps a single mom with three children comes to Family Counseling, desperately trying to survive the chaos resulting from death or divorce. Counseling provides tools to recover emotionally. However, in this situation, Mom may need a safe place for herself and her children – time to recover and build skills until she can manage life on her own again. The Interconnecting pathway would answer questions and assist with the transition process to Homes for Families. In time, that same Mom would be ready for independence and a new phase for herself and her children. The Interconnecting pathway would also share resources, recommendations and perhaps help individuals get connected to a caring church family. It may also provide additional resources for stability as needed. Theresa Klacman, Director of Homes for Families recently shared, “As participants complete their journey in any of our existing ministries, they need ongoing wisdom and support. They crave connection.”

The Interconnecting pathway will keep the doors open for continuing relationships, reminding them we are here for them through various means—texts, phone calls or Zoom Bible studies and devotionals.

The Equipping pathway will assist both individuals and collaborative partners to develop lasting skills by equipping motivated learners. Currently, Faith & Finances classes offer practical and proven educational tools and information to address financial stress. Faith & Work helps to identify personal giftings and find God’s purpose for their life. There could be room for growth and expansion by offering Job Readiness, parenting classes such as Raising Highly Capable Kids, a marriage curriculum and caregiving for grandparents who are raising grandchildren.

Equipping partner ministries could also enhance the impact of local churches by meeting the need for Trauma-Informed Congregational Training for church members. Church staff members are burdened and frequently overwhelmed by individual and family trauma, such as divorce, job loss, conflict with children or adult children, abortion, death and terminal illness. In addition, environmental trauma such as hurricanes and storms, floods, fire and economic crises impact congregations as well. Training could develop a team of “Renewed Hope Caregivers” to minister one-onone to church members who might be struggling with a specific challenge. In meeting individuals at their point of need they may also have a personal encounter with Jesus, and achieve healing and life transformation.

The Partnering pathway will strengthen our relationship with churches through offering consulting, programming support and more. Collaboration with important boots-on-the-ground ministries, such as clothes and food pantries, will help staff in sharing Christ, digging deep with people past their surface and basic needs. Mobilizing as partners will allow us to join in their efforts to restore the lost sheep and the broken prodigals to Him. Always remembering that through partnering together, we may do a better job of meeting children and families in their time of need and connecting them with hands and hearts that can meet those needs.

Through Bridging, Interconnecting, Equipping and Partnering, we will seek to deepen our relationships with community service organizations and our partnering churches in every region. A more effective impact on the level of need in our world may not require a bigger boat or a heavier load of resources. We believe that a focus on inter-ministry collaboration, as Community Ministries, will meet needs more effectively. It also offers the potential of community transformation, beginning with the individual family and their local church and ripples to the expanding community beyond.