Bryce Baldwin Explains an Innovative Approach to Community Outreach Meeting Practical Needs
Welcome to another edition of the unSeminary podcast. I’m here today with Bryce Baldwin of Rome Alliance Church of Rome, NY.
Rome Alliance was founded in 1915. Today you’ll find a mix of people there from birth to age 93. Bryce grew up in this church, later returning to lead it. Rome Alliance is about impacting your whole life with the gospel in relevant ways, not just your Sunday mornings.
Today Bryce is here with us to chat about how to make an impact in your community by meeting practical needs. Rome Alliance Church has started something really innovative among churches: community job fairs.
- What does your community need? // When we talk about outreach, think of what your community needs and how you can offer help in that area. One of the basic rhythms in someone’s life is that they look for work. The Lord kept bringing the idea of a job fair to Bryce’s mind and so he figured out how the church could host one. Their first job fair was held in April 2015. He began simply by inviting people in his church who were employers or owned their own businesses to get involved. From there he went out in the community to talk to other businesses. Rome Alliance’s goal is to provide a platform in which they can reach out to and walk beside people as they look for work.
- Place points of contact throughout the event. // At each of the job fairs they host, the church makes sure to have people at every possible point of contact—from the parking lot, to the welcome and registration table, to the application tables. Blanketing the fairs with church volunteers allows the visitors to make connections with the church. People often visit the church because they’ve heard about it from friends who have visited the job fair or are familiar with the regular job fairs in the community. Serving consistently in this way has built a good rapport with the city of Rome and the people there. As Bryce notes, it all goes back to one relationship, one person at a time. In addition, churches are constantly looking for ways to invite their people to serve, and a job fair connecting to the community offers a whole new area of volunteer opportunities.
- Look for ways to branch out. // As the job fairs have grown, they branched into Rome Alliance starting a separate 501c3 as a non-religious organization, called Rome Community Job Fairs. This change of structure allows for different opportunities for grants and sponsorships. It also created a new staff position and Rome Alliance hired a member of the church to handle the administrative aspects of the job fairs. This staff person can then meet with local businesses for coffee and talk with them about the job fair while also sharing the gospel with them. One of the goals of the city of Rome is to have new businesses come in, and the church has now become a part of that, creating a business focused on helping others.
- Create opportunities to get the word out. // To make your job fair a success, you need to get the word out. This can be done by word of mouth or flyers, as well as using social media or Facebook ads. Facebook ads have been great in helping Rome Alliance get the job fairs in front of more people in their city. And as Bryce notes, you don’t have to spend a lot on this. Rome Alliance spends about $20-$30. Highlight some immediate incentives in the ad, such as come get an interview or some swag. You want more people to share it, so you need something to catch their attention. And more people will see your ads and posts through shares because it influences Facebook’s algorithm. Target a very small area focusing on your local community.
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Helpful Tech Tools // Facebook (See Rome Alliance’s page)
Ministries Following // David Bartels and The River Foundation
Influential Book // The Eighth Letter by Mark Barnard and Kenneth Quick
Inspiring Leader // Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski
What does he do for fun // Watching and coaching sports