SALT of the earth

From large scale infrastructure projects to working with other local organisations to make things happen, Strategic Action Leadership Teams are all asking and finding answers for one simple question: What can we do to bring the light of Christ into this community?

Strategic Action Leadership Teams (SALTs as they are commonly known) are an innovative concept that brings together members from Churches of Christ in Queensland management and staff, local churches, local community and business leaders to create strategies to address the particular needs of that area.

There are currently approximately 30 SALTs, with over 200 active members, and 60 per cent of our affiliated churches taking part.

Acting Group Manager of Strategic Mission Development, Brent Sweeney, helps to oversee the teams, and is an active member on many of them.

“In a large organisation it is crucial to have a mechanism that allows us to listen to local people. Our SALTs allow us to listen to the grassroots and allow them to influence us as an organisation,” Brent said.

“By nature the teams are unifying—they cluster together all parts of our organisation in a region.”

For Brent, the SALTs ask the question, ‘if we work together what could we do to bring the light of Christ into this region?’.

“They are a space where local people and needs meet a large organisation with resources.”

Of the many SALTs currently meeting and bringing light into communities, here are four examples of big, small, old and new teams that are each working to meet the needs of their communities in different ways.

Burleigh

The Burleigh SALT is the newest team to be brought together. Established with the long standing Burleigh Heads Church of Christ and their new pastor Steve Gray, the SALT will set out to see how they can meet the needs of the community and families on the southern end of the Gold Coast.

“There is a lot of need, homelessness, community facilities and families, and the SALT team has been formed to see what this support looks like. The driver has been the new pastor, who has a young family and wants to see what they can do in the community,” Brent said.

With our Children, Youth and Families services on the Gold Coast, they hope to work with them and addressing the needs they see in the community. It is the second SALT for the Gold Coast.

Far Western Queensland

For a number of years, a SALT has been active in Far Western Queensland; for communities west of Toowoomba including Dalby,  Chinchilla, Roma, St George and Cunnamulla.

The SALT has been active in finding small ways to impact these communities.  In St George they have worked with the local Uniting Church to bring a Community Chaplain to the area.

Seniors Chaplain John Teunis, has worked at our Warrawee Aged Care Service, assisting residents, and offering support to their families.

“One day, a lady spoke to John and asked to if he could visit her son who was a farmer and not doing so well. He visited the farmer, and because his mother had told him he was to talk to John, he opened his tractor door and let John up for a chat.

“These are strong farmers, but they are one of most at risk groups of people for suicide.”

The SALT has also been working with the local Aboriginal people to achieve positive outcomes in bringing them together with the farming community. They have worked with the Uniting Church to create a new community centre with coffee facilities so that the local indigenous families, who have felt uncomfortable going in town, have somewhere to come together and enjoy a coffee with other local families.

Samford Valley

Samford Valley, north-west of Brisbane, is an affluent and established community, with a median house price edging $1 million, and strong community spirit. A SALT is active in the picturesque, leafy-green area and found that there were social issues present in the insular community that ‘outsiders’ had failed to be able to address.

Without a desire to come in and bring in ways to fix the community, the SALT looked to the community to find a way to help address the needs, and found a Community Chaplain in local resident Adrian Toft.

Over the past year, Adrian has embedded himself in the community, becoming a trusted confidante and talented community wrangler, gathering helping hands to assist others in need.

Sunshine Coast

For many years, the Sunshine Coast SALT has been working on a way to bring the light of Christ into the community by the finding the best possible use for a large parcel of land at Meridan.

While a residential aged care development was known to be needed to be built there, they wanted to see what else the community needed.

As one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, and the ninth largest, the Sunshine Coast is full with young families. The SALT worked to find out what the needs really were, what they could do to be able to connect with the community.

Across the road from a large school, the block in Meridan presented opportunities to address their needs.

The Sunshine Coast SALT has been successful in that it has innovatively thought about how they can meet the needs of the community and then used their influence to encourage Churches of Christ in Queensland to develop a new, innovative integrated community on the Sunshine Coast.

For more stories like this, download the latest version of Networking.

Posted June 8, 2017 in Networking blog