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Michael J. Marquardt, Action Learning in Action: Transforming Problems and People for World-Class Organizational Learning, (Mountain View, California: DaviesBlack Publications, 1999). 5.

Ibid., 5-8.

engagement in ministry outside the walls of the church and the positive benefits churches have in the welfare of America. Cnaan’s study of 251 churches revealed a number of helpful data points in establishing baseline measurements. Surprisingly the study also revealed data relating the importance of church attendance and friendships within the church as being more powerful influences in external service than the biblical theology undergirding the service. “We discovered that belonging to a congregation is a powerful prosocial experience, one that overshadows even religious beliefs. Indeed we found that the group dynamics of belonging to a ‘moral community’ brings people to care for others much more than ‘individual religious beliefs.”’29 Understanding Cnaan’s work is foundational for understanding the absolutely necessary role the institutional church plays in caring for people as well as the untapped potential of churches that are not engaged in their communities. My mantra has been “Good works create good will, which is the platform for sharing the good news.” Because of Cnaan I am amending this to say, “Good friends help turn good intentions into good works which creates good will, which is the platform for sharing the good news.” Building Communities From the Inside Out: a Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets is the guidebook for “asset-based community development.” John L. McKnight and John P. Kretzmann have distinguished themselves among a large field of social workers and community builders through their pioneering work and research based on focusing on the strengths of a community rather than its deficits. The authors present a well-documented case for asserting that most efforts to rebuild troubled communities fall short because they focus exclusively on the needs,

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problems, and deficiencies of the communities rather than the assets and resources of the community.30 The guidebook serves as a practical compass for community builders who are interested in learning this second approach. The authors introduce a revolutionary mindset regarding what it takes to rebuild community, largely dispelling the myth of broken communities being void of assets or hope. Although the book contains many inspiring examples of where effective community building is taking place, it is the big idea of “asset-based” that creates the energy around which communities are transformed.

The authors express the need for an asset-based approach for a couple of reasons. First, outside help is not always / will not always be available, whereas there will always be the internal assets found in every community. Secondly, much of what is done externally in the name of “help” often ends up creating an unhealthy dependency for the “client.” The writers go so far as to say that communities cannot be rebuilt by focusing on the needs, problems and deficiencies.31 Restoring At-Risk Communities: Doing It Together and Doing It Right, by John Perkins, is a summary of the vision and methodology for beginning Christian community development in order to restore at-risk communities. According to Perkins “Christian community development begins with people transformed by the love of God, who then respond to God’s call to share the gospel with others through evangelism, social action, economic development, and justice.”32 Christian community development is the John P. Kretzmann, and John L. McKnight, Building Communities From the

Inside Out: a Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets (Chicago:

ACTA Publications, 1993). 13.

Ibid., 4-5.

John Perkins, Restoring At-Risk Communities: Doing It Together and doing It Right, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995), 21.

integration of grassroots efforts with church-based efforts to create long-term solutions to the problems of the poor. It begins with addressing the felt needs of those in the community (the need to belong, the need to be important, and the need to be secure) and responds to those needs in holistic ways. It is based on clear biblical principles, develops and utilizes leaders from within the community, and advocates the three R's of genuine community development. First there is relocating back into the city in order to understand the problems of the poor. Second there is racial reconciliation along with mutual submission, and third is the need for redistribution of resources. Redistribution is bringing back some of the intellectual, moral, spiritual, and financial capital back into the community in order to create economic viability. Through the three Rs, Perkins offers a cogent argument to correct much have what has gone before and passed as “community development.” Often those who are trying to help the community live outside the community, ignore reconciliation, and actually end up pulling more resources from the community.

Global Good News—Mission in a New Context is a composite of fourteen essays written by practitioners and thought-leaders in the area of global missions. This fourteenfaceted gem of a volume seeks to explore and unpack the challenges of evangelism and mission in a post-modern and increasingly globalized world. The book is divided into two sections. The first section is about today’s “new global context.” The authors argue that for Christians to have a voice in this millennium they must students of the spiritual and cultural milieu in which they live.33 Howard A Snyder, ed., Global Good News—Mission in a New Context, (Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 2001), 25.

The second section deals with how one becomes good news and shares good news within this new global context. Collectively the authors put forth the proposition that the timeless gospel never changes; it is merely re-interpreted in every age in accordance with the understanding and insight of that age. Christians do not live in an age where the gospel is irrelevant but believers must continually rediscover the vitality of the gospel to make it compelling for every generation. A global gospel is necessary for a global world.

Robert D. Lupton’s, Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America34 is a reflective account of Robert Lupton’s experience of relocating to inner city Atlanta to work among the poor. This book reflects the deepened understanding of community ministry and the transformation in the Lupton family that occurred through nearly twenty years of ministry in Atlanta. What I appreciate most about this short piece is the way Lupton subtly and gently addresses the excuses of believers who don’t want to be involved with those on the margins. He addresses issues like finding and ministering to “the worthy poor.” Lupton just asks his readers to see life through the eyes of those in distress. This request is the starting point to giving oneself to others.

Ray Bakke and Jon Sharpe tell their individual stories and perceptions of God’s grace and how God works in the cities and city structures through their book, Street Signs, an engaging account of two journeys into the city that merge as one common story.

This book makes a huge contribution in understanding God’s concern for the cities of the world as well as understanding a globalized, tribalized and urbanized world. The authors stress the need to exegete not only the Scriptures but the city as well to get a firm understanding on the history, ethnicity, economic health, educational vibrancy of the Lupton, Robert D., Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America, ed. Barbara R. Thompson, (New York: Harper Collins, 1989).

community.35 Eschewing terms like “taking our city” through conferences and crusades, where the city becomes the target, they posit the best way to pull the leaders and the resources of the city together is through city consultations. This methodology is the approach I have seen to be most effective.

Companion to the Poor is a compelling story of one missionary’s journey into a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Manila. This work is Viv Grigg’s firsthand account of his experiences detailing his call, his approach to ministry, his failures, and successes along with a developing theology that served as the foundation of his church planting ministry. What begins as a church-planting mission to the poor results in the discovery of a holistic approach to ministry which Grigg terms “holistic discipleship”36—addressing not only the spiritual needs of the Filipinos but their social and economic needs as well.

Grigg is a bold, reflective practitioner who has honed his theology of ministry in the trenches. Through this book, he has left every urban missionary a great gift. Grigg has adopted as his model for spiritual disciplines, not the habits of the monastery—scripture, prayer, fasting etc. but rather “the disciplines of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount,”37 which are more adoptable to the poor and anyone working in transformational, incarnational ministry.

Ray Bakke and Jon Sharpe, Street Signs, (Birmingham, AL: New Hope Publishers, 2006), 88-89.

Viv Grigg, Companion of the Poor: Christ in the Urban Slums, (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media with World Vision, 2004), 71.

Ibid., 63.

In The Emerging Church38 Dan Kimball has written the handbook for what churches need to become if they are to thrive in the twenty-first century. Kimball writes that church is more a “people who are” rather than a “place where.”39 Kimball sagely notes that the church is to be missional not consumeristic. “I am the church” needs to replace “I go to church.” It is in making this shift where hope is found.

Kimball’s distinctions between the seekers (moderns) and the “post-seekers” (emerging culture) is most helpful. He points out in the modern mindset facts influence belief that influences behavior. Among emerging culture it is experience that influence belief which in turn influences behavior. In both cases behavioral change is the outcome but the means to get there is different.40 This distinction can help shape externally focused churches, especially with the youth. For the emerging generation it may be more effective to let them experience something first and then bring in the biblical explanations that reinforce the positive behavior. It may be best to start with an urban plunge, let them experience the heartbreaks of the community and then lead them to similar situations in the Scriptures where Jesus experienced and felt the similarly. The result of this experiential approach could be very powerful.

Drawing on examples, testimonies, and experiences of dozens of church-based and parachurch outreach ministries, Amy Sherman’s Restorers of Hope: Reaching the Poor in Your Community with Church-based Ministries that Work 41 tells the story of Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003).

Ibid., 93.

Ibid., 187.

Amy L. Sherman, Restorers of Hope: Reaching the Poor in Your Community with Church-based Ministries that Work, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1997).

churches that are transforming lives and reclaiming communities through effective, holistic practitioners, whom she names “Restorers.” Sherman challenges churches to take up Christ’s command to “love your neighbor” and offers specific, practical guidance on how to reach out to neighbors in distress. By understanding the challenges of persistent poverty—and the opportunities afforded by welfare reform and faith-based partnerships, she urges the church to engage in redemptive ministry that presents the gospel as the hope of the inner city.

Carl S. Dudley, in Next Steps in Community Ministry, chronicles the research findings of a Lilly Foundation study of thirty-two congregations that were helping to launch new community-based ministries. This book is particularly helpful in establishing the ability of churches to engage, at some level, in community-based ministry. Dudley and his team discovered that all the participating congregations—even ones that previously indicated low social concern, regardless of liberal or conservative theology, of large or small membership size, of social location or cultural composition—proved to have sufficient social, economic, and faith resources to sustain the development of successful programs of social ministry. Not demographics or theology, but leadership made the most significant difference between success and failure.42 Furthermore Dudley notes that in his research, “we saw volunteers transformed by their involvement in community concerns.”43 He goes on to say, “we discovered how volunteers found their personal faith enriched....”44 In the same book, researcher Sally A. Johnson, in the chapter entitled “Volunteer Satisfactions in Community Ministries,”

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writes, “In devotion, reflection, and action, faith grows through sharing in community ministry. Not only do our commitments move us to reach out but we are changed by that experience.”45 This research is helpful in establishing the need to be engaged in community ministry.

In 1159 A.D. theologian and author John of Salisbury wrote in his book, The Metalogicon, "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."46 This project builds on the shoulders of such giants.

Ibid., 8.

On the Shoulders of Giants; available from http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0162b.shtml; Internet; accessed 17 January 2007.

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This chapter describes the historical, sociological, and organizational context of this project and will include an historic review of the church’s engagement in community, a review of the LC design, a definition of transformational leadership, and an overview of the major stakeholders in this study—LN and the thirty-three participating churches.

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