The Urgent Need of Our Cities:
We need only to watch the six o'clock news to realize that our inner-cities are in deep trouble. Violence, crime, poverty, substance abuse, and fractured families are only a few of the problems corroding our communities. The gap between rich and poor is growing dangerously wide, producing hopelessness, alienation, and rage. The situation is more widespread and dangerous than most of us realize. Desperation among those living in inner-cities and impoverished areas will increasingly impact and threaten those in the middle and upper class who live in affluence. We must recognize the severity of the problem and contribute to the solution.
What Must Change?
The mindsets of individuals and people-groups:
- The transformation of core values - From a secular-materialist worldview (with no ultimate meaning of life) to a God-centered, value-based worldview (which reinforces the true meaning of life).
- The transformation of understanding one's personal abilities and responsibilities - From entitlement to responsibility.
- The transformation of respecting and honoring the priceless value of each human being - From racism to harmonious unity.
The heart motives and attitudes:
- From anger, judgment and hate, to mercy, acceptance and love.
- From confused identities, illegitimacy and rejection, to being sons and daughters of God - loved and accepted.
- From indifference, hopelessness and passivity, to being passionate and motivated to achieve positive goals.
The lifestyle and life skills
- From poor communication to adequate standards of vocabulary, grammar and communication that enable success in life and work.
- From survival to proactively setting and reaching goals in practical areas, including time and money management, relationships, life and work habits, and personal discipline.
- From dependency on government aid and social services to productively contributing to society.
- From non-skilled labor to skilled labor.
Why Faith-Based Community Development?
We applaud and support the successful programs that are being run by government agencies and secular social services. While these programs deal with specific issues and problems, they are limited in their ability to address deep root issues. Poverty and other systemic problems require holistic solutions that deal with social, moral and spiritual foundations. The Bible teaches that "out of the heart come the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 15:18-19). Secular and government agencies must maintain neutrality concerning the root issues of heart motives and core values. Therefore, they are not empowered to confront root causes of an individual's or community's deepest problems.
The Judeo-Christian worldview, core values and commitment to loving relationships and practical compassion have a 2000-year track record of global transformation and impact. Current faith-based organizations such as World Vision, Salvation Army, and Feed the Children, along with the vast expressions of compassion and educational ministries provided by denominations and local churches and synagogues illustrate the profound success of faith-based community development.
What are the Key Elements of Faith-Based Community Development?
- Begins with the felt needs of those in the community
- Responds to those needs in a holistic way
- Based on clear biblical principles
- Develops and utilizes leaders from within the community
- Encourages relocation - living among the poor
- Demands reconciliation - people to God, and people to people
- Empowers the poor through redistribution - all community members sharing their skills, talants, education and resources to help each other (Source: "Restoring At-Risk Communities", edited by John M. Perkins)
The Starting Point:
- Gather and equip a compassionate catalytic community who will live in the midst of the inner-city, providing love and practical solutions.
- Identify felt needs of communities and begin to provide solutions
- Build strategic partnerships with individuals, companies and churches / synagugues to provide combined resources.
- Help connect people in to loving, supportive natural and spiritual family relationships.
- Establish informal and formal equipping and training opportunities
- Establish networking opportunities for urban, suburban, and rural people, so that they can mutually benefit one another in reaching work and life goals.