Archive for the tag “Community transformation”

Four convictions about Kingdom justice

Let me preface this by saying that ‘we’ means “me and the horse I rode in on.” Pretty much everything I write says more about me and my history and journey than it says about anyone else. That’s especially true when I’m trying to correct what I see as misunderstandings in the Church.

Having said that, four convictions about Kingdom justice have been growing in my heart:

— Recovering the Gospel. We have made some great progress in refocusing people away from programs and onto the simple Gospel, but we still have a long way to go. Too many of us don’t understand that salvation is more than spiritual rebirth. Our people don’t adequately understand that salvation includes growing in maturity. They see the abundant life of walking in God’s path as somehow an add-on. Discipleship comes after salvation, instead of being part of it. If we want people to understand the importance of doing justice, we need to help them see salvation more broadly, as the redemption of souls in captivity, as whole-life transformation. Salvation is journey and destination, as well as the metanoia moment.

— Local focus, near and far. The problems are big and complex, and our tendency is to look for big solutions … or think we’re too small to make a difference. We give influence to people who promise big fixes, who then blame “the other guys” when those big plans are stymied or fail. The truth is, transformation is about communities and neighborhoods. We need big vision focused on a small scale, whether it’s down the street or halfway around the world.

— Redemptive personal relationships. While we will make more progress with a small-scale focus on communities and neighborhoods, transformation is first and foremost a personal, individual experience. We will not see communities transformed apart from the transformation of individuals in that community. Neighborhood change is the multiplication of changed individuals. Doing justice is not fundamentally about program or organization. It’s about one redeemed individual helping another individual find new life and learn how to walk in God’s path.

— Tools to help churches and individuals. The problems people face, as individuals and in community, are complex. While a simple gesture like a box of food communicates God’s love in a powerful way, and while opening my heart to Christ the first time was not complicated, most people’s problems are not easily sorted out and solved. Walking naively into someone’s messy life usually ends in frustration and failure. Churches and individuals need tools to help them assess the range of problems they are confronting, engage in dialogue that identifies the solutions needing to be pursued in each case, and chart a course for development that leads to improvement.


LoveLoud … the neglected

sing oldhamRoger S. Oldham writes at about LoveLoud Sunday, July 21:

Every community has needs. The sheer number of people in the inner cities amplifies the brokenness of our sin-infected and impoverished world. If we are to reclaim our nation with the Gospel, there is a tremendous need for healthy churches to reach out to these teeming masses.

NAMB‘s LoveLoud emphasis has a threefold strategy: mobilize your church to love neglected neighbors, to love neglected communities and to love neglected children.

Overlooked and often neglected neighbors include those struggling with substance abuse, homelessness, hunger, incarceration and/or physical or emotional disabilities. Other neglected neighbors include victims of human trafficking, people from other nations who have moved to the neighborhood and widows.

Neglected sectors of the community can be served through innovative ministries such as literacy missions, medical and dental clinics, sports outreach ministries, adopt-a-school initiatives, and community transformation through economic and community development.

Neglected children can be served through such ministries as pregnancy care, foster care, adoption and mentoring programs.

NAMB recommends three learning steps for churches willing to embark on the LoveLoud journey.

Community Prayerwalk — seeing people and communities “through the eyes of Jesus.” Prayerwalking among the people and visiting the places where they live, work and shop will allow God to speak to you about His love for them and their great need for Him.

Community Exploration Experience (CEE) — a CEE is a natural next step following a community prayerwalk. This is an opportunity for personal interactions and an intentional focus on gathering information.

Community Strengths and Needs Survey — this step moves a church deeper in the learning process and requires developing relationships with community leaders. It is very important to show respect and appreciation for these community leaders. Remember, you are entering their community as learners and as servants. …

Communities that have a healthy church in their midst (what Donald McGavran called a “true church”) are communities that experience a “lift” that accompanies redemption. Fellowship buoys the members. Concerned friends gather at bedsides to pray during sickness. Reading and hearing the Bible reminds the church family that God is for them and is available to them. Realizing they are sons and daughters of the King, members of the church act as such and begin living for others. In short, he wrote, a community “in which many others have accepted Christ, becomes a better and better place to live.”

In preparation for LoveLoud Sunday, set for July 21 on the SBC calendar, ask the Lord to let you see the community where you live with the eyes of Jesus. Then ask Him to lift your eyes to the wider fields of harvest. While all effective ministry begins in our own Jerusalem, it must not stop there. Where in your Judea and your Samaria do you need to establish new pockets of ministry? What part of the “uttermost” is the Lord leading your church to engage with the Gospel?

Read more about LoveLoud by clicking here.

Transforming lives and community in Waco

By Ken Camp

Most people knew better than to venture into the blighted area around Waco’s North 15th Street in the late 1970s, but Jimmy and Janet Dorrell purposefully moved into the neighborhood with their young children.

“It’s what Christians do,” Dorrell said. “We invade the darkness.”

Read the article here. 

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