January 29, 2021

One of the nation’s largest locally-focused foundations has stepped up to fund the launch of Communio’s work in Pittsburgh, PA.

Different from our City Platforms, this catalytic two-year project will recruit and equip an ecumenical network of five of the largest Protestant and Catholic churches in the county with Communio’s proven change model, digital outreach services, and consultative support to pivot toward marriage and relationship-focused and engagement in 2021.

Through this new “Church Network”, Communio establishes a strong foothold of influential churches in the county that will serve as a jumping off point for expanding in Pittsburgh to shift family dynamics and increase church attendance across western PA.

And, the timing of the launch couldn’t be better. Just this week, we learned of a new wave of church closings across the city. The launch of Communio’s Church Network in Allegheny County will provide churches a strategy to arrest these trends by sparking a relationship health movement within their congregations.

Like all Communio church projects, the Pittsburgh Church Network is designed to be catalytic in nature rather than long-term sustaining. A key feature is that each church’s ministry becomes self-sustaining at the end of our two-year contract period and no longer requires the influx of philanthropic funding to keep the ministries active.

Self-sustainability comes both through training and empowering volunteers and existing church staff to adopt Communio’s proven model – a Data-Informed, Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™.

Under this model, Communio’s team consults with a church to design and implement a holistic ministry engagement and outreach strategy that provides vision, skills, and community to individuals at each stage of relationship: single, engaged, married, and married in need.

This involves helping the church with the following:

  • Setting clear and measurable 24-month ministry goals (outcomes) and activities (outputs) as well as implementing its own Ministry Engagement Ladder™ – a strategic framework Communio uses to help a church move a large number of people – from inside and outside the church – through a series of outreach events, ongoing engagements, and ultimately into skills-based growth journey that transforms their relationship health.
  • Hands-on consultation with the church to execute its customized plan. This means monthly virtual meetings and in-person quarterly meetings where our staff helps the church recalibrate its plan when necessary or provide additional training resources for churches as they build out a Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™ and their engagement ladder.
  • Equipping the church with a full suite of technology and digital support services to execute all its digital outreach efforts into the community. This includes developing ad creative, creating church-branded landing pages and event registration systems, and deploying digital outreach campaigns on behalf of the church that invite the community to virtual and in-person events and experiences hosted by the church.

In many ways, Communio’s expansion strategy into Pittsburgh was actually developed because of the advice of one of the world’s most accomplished executives in the hospitality industry, our former board chairman, Mike Leven. He was the president of Holiday Inn, president of Sands Corp, a senior executive with Days Inn, and the owner and franchisor of Microtel.  Not sure there is a more successful executive of large brands in the hotel sector.

He explained that building a corporately-owned location in a market demonstrates demand in a market. Then, with the concept proven locally, potential franchisees move to open their own location.  This is how he grew Days Inn from 250 units to 1,500 units in the matter of a few short years.

Communio’s new five-church Church Network requires far less capital than a City Platform and will allow us to open up five critical “corporate stores” necessary to prove the model within individual churches in Allegheny.  This will generate demand from additional churches interested in funding their own partnership.

For more information or to explore bringing Communio’s model to your city or church, call us at (703) 347-7800 or email us at platform@communio.org.  Or visit our website – www.communio.org – for more background on our work.

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