It’s called an ESL class, but it feels like a party

By Joshua Nardi, Positive Impact Miami

It began in ignorance.  After time, labor and providence, it became more than just an ESL program.  I should describe our methodology or the materials, but those are secondary.

Our magic wand interviews revealed the community residents’ desires to learn English and to gain citizenship. Some church members spoke English and some had taken the arduous test for citizenship; all avenues pointed to an opportunity for an ABCD approach to an identified community need.

So, in an effort to build pathways into the community, Positive Impact Miami leaders designed the English as a Second Language and Civics Program. The program was implemented in two churches as a pilot program. It was no surprise that the program taught the students; but we could never have engineered the glorious and effervescent friendships that is growing out of the program.

After several weeks, the tutors and students were cooking traditional meals together and translating the whole process from Spanish to English.  Students also invited the tutors to visit their workplaces, like sandwich shops or musical performances.  Every night of class somebody brings refreshments.  Each person, both tutor and student has different talents and weaknesses.  Some tutors barely speak Spanish, others barely speak English.

It is obvious that we are all on the same journey together.  It is called an ESL class, but it feels like a party.

Youth Employment Service (Y.E.S.)

Youth Employment Service (Y.E.S.) from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

The Y.E.S. program offers local youth a first work experience.  Kids  learn work ethic, good saving habits through incentives, and taking pride in their communities through caring.
Posted: Aug. 28th, 2007 DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
Community Betterment

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Town Pulls Off a Community Dinner

During my first 6 years of ministry in Clear Lake (WA), it was the tradition at Thanksgiving for the two churches in town to have an annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was an evening of terrific food and pleasant conversations followed by a nice program.

But it wasn’t a “community” Thanksgiving dinner, for not one person outside of the two churches would come.

This changed!  When plans were beginning for the 2006 Community Thanksgiving dinner, there was a willingness to offer a true community dinner.  A group of leaders from our community were invited to join the two churches in offering a meal.  After great conversations and creative brainstorming a format was chosen.  The Clear Lake community would have its first Progressive Community Thanksgiving Meal.

The Historical Association would host the appetizers in their building.  Community Covenant Church would host the main course and Clear Lake Baptist Church would host the dessert at the Elementary School with a program by the local high school jazz choir following.  The Fire Department agreed to have a fire truck at each of the locations to help with traffic and with people walking between each building.

On the night of the meal our prayers were answered.  Many people came.  In-fact 350 or around 20% of the whole community joined in this celebration!  Young, old, the well known and the forgotten, all came together for a Thanksgiving meal.  It was a grand night.

This time – it was a community meal.

Now months later plans are underway for the next Thanksgiving.  Also, as a result, other community matters are being pursued as well.  More people have joined in providing leadership and new ideas and events are taking shape.  For example, the Clear Lake Connection Committee is seeking to have a free trash day; to offer free or reduced swimming at our local beach this summer; and to have a community safety meeting with the Sheriff and more.

The committee is gaining the courage to care for our small town.  To God be the Glory!


AmeriCorps Makes A Difference

by Trudy Shuravloff

With the help of Imagine NW! my organization, The Whatcom Dream has been able to receive a grant in the form of an AmeriCorps position for the past year and a half.  John Shuravloff filled this position as an AmeriCorps member.  The requirements of the position are to advance Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) practices in our neighborhood.  John and I live in the Roosevelt Neighborhood of Bellingham, Washington.

Some of the ABCD efforts include:

1.  Helping residents organize and develop a neighborhood poster and calendar.

2.  Supporting and encouraging neighbors to work with local Child Welfare Officials to create a system that allows foster kids from our neighborhood to stay in our neighborhood.  A system that enables kids to remain in their same school, with the support and familiarity of friends and teachers, will decrease stress on the kids while the family is in crisis and foster a sense of belonging and stability for families.

3.  Assist neighbors in organizing local block watch programs.  Every resident was given a free low energy compact fluorescent light bulb for a porch light to help reduce crime in the area.  Roosevelt is no longer the highest crime area in Bellingham.  Community Development REALLY WORKS!

4.  Facilitate a “Citizen Leadership” program in the Roosevelt neighborhood.  This program is patterned after one developed by Imagine-Chicago, a non-profit community organization in Chicago.  This is a structured, on-the-job training that equips local people, young or old, to learn the basics of community organizing.

The goal is for each trainee to form a team of citizens to plan and complete a small project that improves the neighborhood.

John will be facilitating the nominee’s work sessions, which provide them with the necessary tools, information and resources to complete a project of their choice.  This is a wonderful opportunity to provide free leadership development training to residents who are recognized as potential leaders!

Lastly, John can be seen most days out in the community garden – planting, weeding and watering.  When we moved here several years ago, this garden became a huge and exciting gathering point for neighbors to naturally connect and talk.  This benefits the neighborhood by bringing people together through meaningful conversations.  Our neighbors love the produce and the spontaneous chats!

Thanks Imagine NW! for supporting us in our work!  We appreciate your help!  TS

Delighted to Share with You

by Stacey Kiekintveld

It was six years ago.  My husband Joel had left a job working for a church and we were seeking out what was next.  We found a little house on the north side of town in what was considered Anchorage’s “ghetto.”  Joel ended up working for Anchorage Youth for Christ running a teen drop-in center, Parachutes, in the Dimond Mall on the south side of town.  We started attending Crosspoint Community Church also located on the south side of town and, at that time still meeting at Klatt Elementrary School.

Nearly five years ago Jeff Littlejohn came to Anchorage and held an ABCD Conference at Crosspoint.  It was there that I began to think about this idea that we should be living at the mobile home park.  After all, if it was the area of town that we were trying to “reach.” Then I suppose we should actually live there ourselves.  Four years later, after many hours of discussion on a dusty dirt road near Dawson City, we decided to make the leap.  Last spring we sold our house in Mountain View and bought a mobile home (a double wide) in Dimond Estates.

The cost of living in Anchorage is high and there is very minimal affordable housing.  Many of the city’s lower income families find themselves with few choices, one of those choices being a trailer.  Dimond Estates is one of the larger and nicer mobile home parks in a city that has a good number of them.  We estimate that anwhere from 1500-3000+ people live on Dimond Estates’ 522 lots.

There is a stigma that goes along with living in a mobile home park.  For many reasons it’s not a place that people take pride in.  Some of my dreams would be to improve the community in the park to such an extent that people would not be ashamed to say they live there; to make this mobile home park esthetically a great place to live for people who cannot afford to live anywhere else; to build community where kids have a great place to play and where people know one another; to make services available like medical or financial clinics, after school clubs, soccer leagues, garden clubs…I can just go on and on with this list.  I dream of a park that people could actually be proud of living in, which, to be honest at this point in time for myself, is a little bit humbling.

Organically, little things have already begun to happen.  One example was TV Turn Off week at school.  During that week, we had kids over after school to draw with sidewalk chalk, blow bubbles, and play Kick the Can.  Through those activities I know more of the kids’ names and a few more adults too.  Our first “plan of action” is to organize a neighborhood meeting in order to learn and discover what the people here dream and hope for living in this community.  Through this beginning, hopefully, we will begin to develop a neighborhood association.

Deep down in my heart, however, I know that if none of my dreams become a reality, God really just called me here to love the people He brings my way.  That is really what it comes down to right?  Loving people no matter what their situation is or where they live.  Brining peace and love and hope to a community where little is to be found.  Bringing heaven here on earth.

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8).  SK

Roosevelt Community Church: Common Vineyard

by Baron Miller

In John 15, Jesus says we are the vine, and he is the branch, and this is how we have life in Him.  Consider the whole church sharing in the vine of Christ.  Catherine of Sienna, the 14th century Christian Mystic, called this “common vineyard.”  The nature of a “common vineyard,” Catherine says, is that every action, good or bad, affects other people.

The challenge for the local church is to live like we DO really share a common vineyard.  If we only offer this vine to others during a church service, then very few, namely Christians, will ever experience new life on the vine.  What if the city was our sanctuary, not the building, and the neighborhood our congregation, not merely church attendees?

With this question in mind, Roosevelt Community Church spent a Sunday DOING a church service, not sitting in a church service, and we didn’t take an offering, we made an offering. We worked with the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association and secured a grant to plant 30 street beautification trees.  That Sunday our sermon was on loving our neighbors as ourselves; and the neighborhood didn’t hear the sermon, they saw the sermon.  Events like these get us one step closer to sharing a “common vineyard.”  BM

A Blue Collar Pastor

by Baron Miller

It was 3:00pm, and our church had been working for 6 hours at John and Trudy’s house on Texas Street in Bellingham, Washington.  This was after a construction crew had spent the last 3 weeks attempting to salvage their home.  Leaky roof and windows, rotten floor joists, mold; you name the problem and this house had it.

Inspired by the early church’s social actions, “There were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4:34a), we had committed to support John and Trudy with a working party to save labor costs.

It was at this time that I was introduced to Isreal, the carpet guy.  Adam, our project coordinator had convinced Isreal to donate the carpet installation costs and while chatting with him, called me out, “Hey Baron, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

I shook Isreal’s hand while Adam explained to him that I’m the pastor of the church who had put this working party together.

Isreal shook my dirty, blistered hand and said, “You’re the pastor huh—a real blue collar pastor.”

I drove home that day feeling like being called a blue collar pastor was the best compliment I’d received in years.  But more important than the personal compliment is what it means not only to Isreal, but to the community: That this blue collar pastor leads a blue collar church, and we all get our hands dirty together.

This is the heart of incarnational ministry—to be among, not separate from the people.  This is what Jesus does, he’s among, and he gets his hands dirty with the rest of us—a blue collar church for a blue collar Jesus.  BM

A Road Report from Belltown

by Chandra Mullenix

Andrew and Chandra Mullenix live in Belltown, Seattle and are members of Emmaus Road.  Chandra reflects on her experience of listening to the city as one of ER’s group of “neighborhood listeners” and the role of forming relationships with neighbors as the church moves into deeper community involvement.

I’ve come to realize how much I didn’t know my city or my neighbors.  Also, I discover how other people who live in Belltown, are as isolated as I am—we just don’t know each other!  And of course they do not know much if anything about my church-Emmaus Road.

Some of my favorite discoveries since actively seeking to know my neighborhood have been the Low Income Housing Institute (new mixed-use building) and the Belltown P—Patch (community garden).  Both of these organizations want to become places for community, but are having a tough time getting there.

I’m slowly learning (as a compulsive helper), how folks need to trust one another before accepting assistance.  I kind of thought if we just showed up and asked how we could get to work, we’d be given lists and get started, but sometimes we don’t get a response.  Other times the reply is ‘No thanks.’

All the other ministry work I’ve been involved in has had clear roles, protocols, and outcome criteria.  I’m pretty much forced to let go of the control (another tricky thing for me), and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work through me, which is, of course, what always needs to happen in the first place.  CM


by Harry Weidenaar

From the top of the year Seattle First Christian Reformed Church has partnered with Jeff Littlejohn and Imagine NW! to learn and practice the principles of Asset Based Community Development.

This partnership comes out of a desire of Seattle First to be relevant to its community.  We want to have influence with our neighbors without being obnoxious.  We want to serve the Kingdom of God by coming alongside our neighbors and helping them to achieve what they plan for their community.  As we build relationships, we believe opportunities to share Christ in word as well as deed will arise naturally.

To this end we have opened our church building to use by community organizations and encouraged our membership to attend their meetings.  For example, the Briarcrest Neighborhood Association had their annual party in our multi-purpose room.

Our people joined their people in eating, laughing, swapping stories, and swing dancing.

We plan on having a block party off campus in one of the neighborhoods close to church so that neighbors and church members can meet and greet informally over burgers and dogs.  We’re hoping to have a table at our annual rummage sale (always a big draw!) that gives away money!  What’s the gimmick?  We want to ask Shoreline residents 5 “magic wand” questions for a buck.  Answer the questions, you get your dough!

This is an effort to gather more information on our neighborhood, to help us serve better.

We have a basketball camp planned for middle school and junior high school kids in August.  Camp teachers include neighborhood “balers” who have signed on to work with us.

A neighborhood summit, involving a number of neighborhood associations, is planned fo later in the year.

What’s the benefit to us?  Three things, I think:

First, we believe that we are doing God’s will here.

Second, our people have enjoyed contact with our neighborhood people and have managed to help them do some things that they wanted to do.

And third, we have some new people (just a trickle now) but we hope it will become a stream and join us in our mission work and worship life at First.  HW

Musings from a Daily Journal

by Jay Anema

[Personal Entry – Fri, March 30, 2007]

Have you ever gone to a conference motivated more by feeling you should attend rather than you were eager to attend?

What got me there in the first place was one Sunday morning at First Seattle CRC, Jeff Littlejohn presented the ABCD concept (Asset-Based Community Development) to some 30 adults.  ABCD is a very useful way for people to organize themselves around common efforts that bring constructive change from the “inside-out”.  The people (not government or other ‘outsider’) make things happen.

On another Sunday, Jeff had the class role-play, using the “Magic Wand” interview tool.  We pretended to interview our neighbors using his five-question process.  This helps people get to know their neighbors and to discover their vision for positive changes in their community.  Afterwards he had people describe their reactions.  This was a build up for signing up for the two-day “When People Care Enough To Act” conference in Issaquah on March 30 and 31st.  This seemed to be something I should do.

I was struck by the variety of people who were there, coming from such differing jobs, backgrounds and reasons for taking part.  There were a number of individuals from other States and people from local government agencies, not just church people talking with other church people.

Mike Green was the presenter.  He asked common sense questions.  He noted how often we begin with ‘our’ assessment of the needs of others coupled with ‘our’ own imposed solutions.  This all before we ask others for ‘their’ ideas.

He elicited stories of experiences encountered by people that were applicable to the ABCD approach.  I especially appreciated a story by George Montoya.

He and a friend were in a Mexican village near El Paso, TX.  There a crisis erupted with a mom bringing a very sick baby to these two from the U.S.  They wanted the Americans to solve this crisis.  But George kept on asking the people themselves for their own solutions: who to call, where’s the clinic, how to get there, how to pay for the medications, etc.  In the end, everything that was done to solve this was all done by the people from that village neighborhood.  This taught the people, and me, that the “people” can be the solution, not just outsiders.  In this way it was the community’s own assets that were brought to bear on the solutions.  That was a learning conversation.

During this ABCD training, participation by government agency representatives was positive.  It gave perspective to them as well as to people coming from a religious point of view, how each can play a role in helping build community.

The conference showed how asking questions and listening could lead to more questions, more listening and real communication.  If you care enough, you can use communications tools and become motivated within community to work for change!

There was plenty of interaction, and the day went quickly.  The conference gave me an appreciation for looking first at what strengths and assets we have as a community rather than beginning with deciding what the community needs.

Had I to do it over, I would have signed up for both days…more eager than obligated after the experience!  JA

Rocking Crosstown

by George Montoya

Putting creative spin on the maxim “engage with the community,” members of the Alameda CRC have transformed a dark, abandoned Victorian hotel into the vibrant, light-infused Crosstown Community Center. This is a dynamic space for bringing new art, music and friendships to life.

Open mic nights, concerts, mother and toddler groups, knitting groups, book groups and impromptu jam sessions are among the activities that spark creativity and friendship among neighbors who otherwise would remain strangers. Crosstown was launched last August as an independent venture by Dave Nederhood, the pastor of Alameda CRC.

In an era when communities don’t really “commune,” and proliferating on every street corner are franchised coffee businesses built on a financial model that speed customers in and out, Crosstown was designed to encourage customers to sip their coffee at a leisurely pace and linger for as long as they like; even play the piano or sing if there’s an available mic. “Conversation and creativity are two powerful chemicals in any community,” says Dave. “In our case, coffee is just the catalyst that causes a great reaction between the two.”

“Our competition isn’t Starbucks. It’s television – which is what keeps people in their homes. There’s a huge need for friendships and dialogue. The community presented that need. Neighbors weren’t talking to each other.” Reaching a post-modern world with a pre-modern faith is central for Dave, and operating as an independent non-profit is critical to Crosstown’s success.

Dave wants to be able to say with integrity that it’s not an outreach program but a true collaboration with the community. While he and others are convinced that Christianity needs re-presenting, relationships formed at Crosstown are based on authentic connections born of real conversations. Pre-packaged messages are as forbidden as pre-packaged coffee. “Shared stories help focus the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in people’s lives. Crosstown’s tagline, ‘It’s about life and then some,’ indicates the process through which spiritual dialogue grows naturally out of life’s discussions.”

Crosstown is a place for community members to find their voice, to create, and to connect. Responsive to the emerging visions of the community, it’s always adding new programs to the mix. “If you’ve got a passion for it, we’ll find a way to do it!” says Dave. An example of a local talent connecting with a ready audience is “Cowboy Jared,” who walked into Crosstown one day for a cup of coffee and found the place was teeming with mothers and toddlers. After a few impromptu performances, he now packs the place on a regular basis. Toddlers depend on it.

Besides recognizing the need to create a sense of community for Alameda residents, Dave has a also longed for years to provide a place for young musical artists to be mentored and build up their reputation as artists. “Conceptually, Crosstown originated as a vision for a teen center and music venue where ministry to and with young people would happen in the context of the arts,” said Dave. He believes young artists and musicians are vital to the life of the church and should be respected and supported in tangible ways rather than marginalized. Dave says that often artists don’t get the nurturing they deserve if their art form doesn’t conform to conventional pursuits, such as playing the pipe organ, singing in the choir, or crafting stained glass windows. “Crosstown is helping to bring about good theology at the street level,” says Dave.

Suazanne Martin-Smith, the community center director, collaborated on the Crosstown vision when she recognized the need to provide mothers and toddlers with a place to connect and flourish in a coffeehouse setting. “A woman came in with two young girls,” Suzanne reported. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh! This is so great! I just met a friend in Starbucks and people were rushing us out the door, giving us dirty looks!’ Here, kids are encouraged to play and not be ‘shushed,’” said Suzanne, who orchestrates a stories and crafts program for kids.

The sweet cheery face and affectionate energy of Faith Rusca, the manager of Crosstown, is another of the many reflections of the “home sweet home” atmosphere of the place. Faith and chief barista Deb Nederhood not only know their customers’ coffee preferences, they also know their struggles.

“Sometimes Deb will come home and say, ‘John looked ten years older today. I think he’s really stressed. I’m going to pray for him,’” says Dave.

Besides prayer, church members and friends have contributed funding, volunteer time and expertise to make Crosstown happen. Bryan Gower, president of the board of directors for Crosstown, reported that community members emerged with experience in nonprofit management, coffeehouse management, bookkeeping, networking, city planning, legal services, construction, music promotion, children’s program development and fundraising. To further focus the skills of their volunteers and the direction of this ministry, Bryan, Suzanna, and Dave attended training in Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). This mentality of collaboration, rather than needs-based outreach, was already in operation at Crosstown. “ABCD was a godsend,” said Dave, because it gave a language and a structure for their method of tapping into the community’s dreams, desires and resources. Soon after the leaders of Crosstown attended the training, they were off and running. Though not financially solid yet, Crosstown has already had a powerful influence on the community at large.

Three years ago when we started, there were few if any places in Alameda where kids or teens could just hang out or where families could come and enjoy music,” says Bryan. Now family-friendly and community-building places are germinating throughout the community. “I like to think that we tuned in to what Alameda needed and wanted, and we facilitated people in building community spaces,” Bryan said.

“Once in awhile, I stand back and take it all in,” says Faith who puts in about 60 hours a week at Crosstown. “Everything that we set out to do at Crosstown has flourished. It’s a home away from home, a place where you can meet like-minded individuals and form incredible relationships that create beautiful memories.”

Fruitfulness in Northern California

By George Montoya

We had a very busy spring this year and this summer we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. We planted tomatoes and strawberries in our backyard and had enough that we could enjoy them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Fortunately Bobbie and I both love the fresh taste of tomatoes and strawberries! Bobbie has become very creative in her use of tomatoes and the neighbors have been blessed with our abundance, too.

We also planted seeds of community development in Northern California. At our urging, twelve people from various churches attended the Asset Based Community Development training in Seattle on March 29-30. After the training, there was so much enthusiasm that in the last few months we have traveled throughout Northern California visiting with most of the churches that attended. We visited with our partners in Merced, Modesto, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, Winton, Delhi, Alameda, and Sacramento. Gateway Community Church has already started engaging with community in Merced, Delhi, and Winton. In alameda, Pastors Dave and Deb Nederhood have started the Crosstown Community Center and Coffee House and are already connecting with the surrounding community (See Rocking at Crosstown article ).

The journey and challenge that these churches have started is what I call “the challenge of grace.” God’s grace extends to all His people: we only have to start our “holy drift” into community with His people, and let God do the rest. But this requires us to shift our efforts from growing churches into transforming communities outside the church doors.

Remember the episode with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? The woman is humiliated by being brought into the circle so everyone could gawk at her. She was guilty – caught in the very act. What is Jesus’ response to this woman? After writing in the dirt, his conversation with her accusers shows that he is for the woman, not against her. He becomes her “champion.” Then, after everyone is gone, he tells her in effect, “Why don’t you quit living like this? It’s going to kill you; it almost just did.” No shrinking back, no “I’m OK you’re OK” stuff. He confronts the issue, but does it after showing his love, after championing her.

This sequence is instructive in how we are to reach out to our own communities. Dave and Deb and many others in Northern California are becoming “champions” in their communities in this way. Go Dave and Deb!

Our hope and prayer is that all the seeds that have been planted in Northern California will be as fruitful as our tomatoes and strawberries. That as relationships are built in the respective communities and we become their champions, people will see Jesus in the lives of those involved. We pray that the community will see the transparent love of Jesus that exists in all of God’s children, and appreciate the Church anew.


Last night after soccer I gave a few of the kids a ride back home. As I drove down our street there was a car stopped in the middle of the road, making it almost impossible to pass on either side. So I slowed down, thinking he would move. He moved a little, giving me enough to room to squeeze through, but then a group of guys walked out where I was going to pass. I was a little annoyed, but I recognized one of them so I honked and jokingly yelled at them to get out of the street.

Then, a guy on a bike who I’ve never seen before nearly ran into the front of my car. They wouldn’t move. In fact, they almost ignored me completely. I decided the only way to make them move is if I started driving slowly to “push” them out of the way. It worked. But after I got through I felt a little uncomfortable. I looked in my mirror to see if they were laughing, but they weren’t. I wondered if I had disrespected them and began to second guess my “good” connection with the neighbors. After I dropped off the kids I had to drive by the same spot. All the same guys were outside, but the car had moved. I waved and smiled, but they didn’t respond. Not good.

Later on that night I heard a commotion in my front yard. I looked out my window and saw a girl passed out on my driveway. I went outside to investigate. It turned out she was a friend of one of my neighbors and had drank too much Jack Daniels. She woke up and tried to stand up but ended up falling flat on her face on the cement. I got her some water but she hit it out of my hand and it landed all over me.

By that time about a dozen neighbors had walked by. Her friends pulled up the car but we couldn’t get her in. Then one of the guys that I had an incident with earlier pulled up on his bike. He offered to help but I told him we were okay. He motioned for me to come over and talk to him. When I came over he explained that people “talk” in the neighborhood and that it didn’t look good to have a girl passed out in front of my house, even if it wasn’t my guest. He told me that in our neighborhood, people watch out for each other and that’s what he was trying to do. I felt convicted. A few hours earlier I had him written off as a disrespectful gangster that could potentially be a threat to me. And here he was trying to help me by carrying this complete stranger covered in vomit over to the car. I was humbled.

Chrissy Padilla

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What is the Problem with Your Neighborhood?

by Jeff Heerspink

In essence that is what we are asking the people in the community to the North.  On October 15, Karen Keyzer, Rich DeVries and myself headed out to knock on a few doors.  What we found is that many people are not home on Sunday afternoons, but more importantly those who are home are more than willing to answer a few questions about their neighborhood.

The questions are simple.

*  If you could wave a magic wand, and make one positive thing happen in the community this next year, what would it be?

*  What gifts, strengths, education, talents, passion, and abilities do you have that you could offer to make this one thing happen?

*  If you found out there are other people in the neighborhood who have a similar idea as you, would you consider working with them to make this one thing happen?

*  How many neighbors do you know by first and last name that live near you?

By asking these four questions we find out what those in the community would like to have changed (not what we think should be changed), we find out what resources are available in the neighborhood and if people are willing to help bring change to the community they live in.  Our goal is to get back to them with a letter communicating the concerns in their community and to begin to try to bring them together to bring about the changes.

The three of us split up and in an hour and a half we were able to connect with 21 people (half of one street).  The three biggest concerns we found:

(1)  Traffic on 14th (trying to get on Superior).

(2)  Neighborhood association not having any authority to uphold rules and

(3)  Lack of a community.

When I think of “community development,” I think of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan.  This is the story Jesus told when the Pharisees questioned him about who his neighbor was.  Jesus highlights the reality that everyone in need is to be our neighbor and tells us that we are to do as the Good Samaritan did, by caring for people in tangible ways.  Jesus concludes the parable with the statement, “Go and do likewise.”  The heart of Community Development is to discover the needs and demonstrate God’s love to our “neighbors.”

We do not want to be a church that sits in a neighborhood without making any tangible effect.  I believe that the church must do more to change the landscape of a community than just be a building.  We need to be active and display the grace and love of God as we serve the community as a representation of Christ.  Our goal is not to do all the work for this community but simply to assist them in coming together to bring about the changes that they see fit.  That is why it is important that we find out not only what the problems are, but what they are willing to do about the problem and what resources are available to them.

We pray also that as we go out in the community and talk to our neighbors, they will want to know more about the church and ultimately about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Who know how God might use the efforts of His people?


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