Structure and Process

While there is variation between networks and sites within networks, CBCOs are typically composed of 20-40 congregations, sometime with other organizations, sometimes not. Each organization maintains an organizing committee and there is an overall governing board for the CBCO itself composed of representatives of the respective congregations and should there be non-religions groups involved, they are likewise represented..

Larger CBCOs will divide into sections around problem areas such as education, health care, housing, and carry out the necessary research and consider strategies for change. The CBCOs membership determines the priority of alternative projects, strategies are developed and "actions," public meetings involving decision makers and as many people as the CBCO can turn out, are held. Timeframes for action and accountability to CBCO membership is established and followed-up.

The key concepts that guide CBCO work are self-interest (broadly considered,) power, agitation, and accountability.


There seems no doubt that congregation based community organizing is an effective strategy for a wide range of civic problems, from securing a stop sign to increasing the state budget for education. Other forms of community action (legal advocacy, community education (media), simple protest, self-help action groups, lobbying and action research) while effective for many problems do not provide the diversity (cross-class, multi-faith, multi-ethnic) contact and potential for integration as does congregation based community organizing.