Frequently Asked Questions

+ What challenges do faith-based organizations face today?

Today’s faith-based organizations and congregations desire to live out their faith and see their communities flourish. Yet they face an increasingly complex legal and cultural landscape. In particular, faith-based organizations want to positively impact their communities without sacrificing their religious identity. Faith-based organizations may even question their value and contribution to society. Faith-based organizations and congregations are looking for ways to continue impacting the communities they serve without cutting into costs or sacrificing staff time and quality of work.

+ What Is Sacred Sector Community?

Sacred Sector Community is specifically designed to equip organizations to advance their faith-based missions, fully exercise their ability to live out their faith, and increase their impact. The Sacred Sector Community invites faith-based organizations to study and apply a holistic framework, known as the “Three P’s”, to fully embody religious freedom in their public policy engagement, in their public positioning, and in their organizational best practices. Faith-based organizations will also learn and adopt the Standards for Excellence(r), an industry resource within the nonprofit sector.

+ Why is a learning community like this needed now?

The presence of faith-based organizations is robust and thriving throughout the country. Yet today’s landscape is complex: every day the news headlines mention faith-based organizations facing legal challenges, such as faith-motivated staffing practices, engaging public officials, and nondiscrimination laws. Participants will be empowered to proactively protect themselves from legal challenges, while protecting their religious identity.

Sacred Sector will support faith-based organizations and churches through a learning community format that will provide training, coaching, and technical support. Working and learning alongside other faith-based organizations and churches throughout the Midwest, faith-based groups will be better equipped to navigate the local public policy landscape together.

+ What kind of faith-based organizations can participate?

Any faith-based nonprofit organization or church — small, medium or large — is invited to apply to join the learning community. Ideal candidates should have a commitment to advancing their organization’s faith-based missions and increasing their impact. Additionally, these organizations should seek to comprehensively live out their sacred missions and identities in everything they do. Applicants should be able to demonstrate their interest in a collaborative, interdisciplinary learning environment.

+ What will my organization learn?

Using a holistic framework called the Three P’s, Sacred Sector Community empowers participants to integrate and fully embody their sacred missions via Sacred Sector Toolboxes, which offer training and practical guidance as they relate to six key areas: Religious Staffing, Government Partnerships, Positive Engagement in the Public Square, Nondiscrimination Laws, Advocacy and Lobbying, and Family Supportive Workplaces.

Participants will have also have access to the Standards for Excellence Code, which covers areas of nonprofit operations including: Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation; Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development; and Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy.

+ What is the format of the program?

Sacred Sector Community runs from January to June 2019 and is flexible and customizable to the discretion and availability of the organization. Participants will: • Receive 1-on-1 coaching from experts; • Connect with leaders of other faith-based organizations; • Participate in regularly scheduled webinars; • Create an organizational assessment and implementation plan; and Access written resources. Sacred Sector Community holds two in-person sessions: at the start of the program, and a final capstone. For those unable to join in-person, sessions will also be recorded and made available for viewing at a later time.

+ Is there a cost to be part of Sacred Sector?

There is no cost for Sacred Sector participants. While meals are covered for the in-person sessions, participants are responsible for covering travel and lodging during their visit. Sessions will be recorded and available to those who are unable to attend in-person.

+ Does Sacred Sector Community provide lodging for sessions?

Sacred Sector Community is unable to offer accommodations during the opening and closing sessions. However, program staff will work with participants to identify lodging options for their stay.

+ How selective is Sacred Sector Community?

The program is designed to be competitive, focused on recruiting and accepting faith-based nonprofits that successfully complete the application and interview process. Sacred Sector helps faith-based organizations more effectively live out their faith-based mission. Sacred Sector Community will be made up of about 25 organizations located in the Midwest during the second year of the program.

+ Who from my organization should participate?

We recognize that participating organizations will vary in size, scope of work, and organizational structure. Therefore, each organization’s representatives may vary – some organizations may choose to send the executive director, while others send a program manager, a communications or policy director, or even a board member. Regardless, each organization should ask itself: who will be tasked with implementing this? That should inform who is best suited to represent your organization in the Sacred Sector Community.

+ As the leader of a faith-based organization, there are many demands on my time. How will I make this work with my existing workload and schedule?

Sacred Sector understands that those working in ministry often work long and irregular hours. Sacred Sector staff will work with each faith-based organization and church individually to set up 1-on-1 meetings that work with your schedule. Sacred Sector resources, learning sessions and coaching opportunities are fully customizable for the needs of your organization. Participation can range from a minimal time commitment of a few hours a month, to a few hours a week.

+ How many people from my organization can participate?

Each participating organization or church can have up to four people as active participants, joining various calls, webinars and in-person sessions, to allow small and large faith-based organizations greater flexibility in participating in this learning community.

+ Will I see tangible outcomes or benefits for my faith-based organization?

Participating organizations and churches will be guided through an organizational assessment and a corresponding implementation plan. Sacred Sector staff will work with participants individually to identify the most critical area for growth and change. Over the course of the curriculum, participants will be assessed at various benchmarks to determine progress towards desired outcomes.

A customized plan might include: • Creating a customized advocacy plan, • Revising the mission statement and/or statement of faith, • Developing or adding religious elements to an employee handbook, • Strengthening relationships with community leaders, • Planning for leadership transitions, or • Pursuing greater financial accountability.

+ When and where does Sacred Sector Community take place?

Sacred Sector Community is a six-month program that runs January through June. In 2019, Sacred Sector will be available to organizations in the Midwest, and in 2020, will be available on the West Coast.

+ I’ve never heard of Sacred Sector. What is the backstory?

Sacred Sector launched in 2018 as an initiative of the Center for Public Justice, a Christian civic education and public policy organization that has been around for more than forty years. Sacred Sector is made possible through the generous support of the Templeton Religion Trust.

Sacred Sector offers two tracks. Sacred Sector Community is a learning community for faith-based organizations and churches to advance their religious freedom proactively and fully embody their sacred missions in public life. Sacred Sector Fellowship is a track for current or recently graduated seminarians who are planning for a career in the faith-based nonprofit sector.

+ How is Sacred Sector Community funded?

Sacred Sector Community is an initiative of the Center for Public Justice made possible by the generous support of the Templeton Religion Trust. Learn more at CPJustice.org.

+ I don't think my organization fits the main criteria. Can I still apply?

Absolutely! We recognize that not all organizations fit the same mold. If you are located in a different part of the country from where the cohort is taking place, please reach out to us. Perhaps your organization would benefit from participating sooner than when the cohort will be taking place in your region of the country. Regardless, please reach out to us if you think you’d be a good candidate, but may need flexibility in some way.

+ How can I get involved with Sacred Sector Community?

We are dedicated to supporting the good work your organization is doing to serve your community.

Please contact program coordinator Virginia Creasy here to discuss how your organization or church can be involved. Sacred Sector is free for participating organizations and churches.

+ Is there anything available to print out for staff members or other interested organizations?

Yes! You can download a printable version of the overview and FAQs.