Thoughts on Servant Leadership in Asset Based Community Development

Brianna Menning – Communities First – Director of Community Based Learning

ABCD and servant leadership– check out the recent blog post on our AmeriCorps blog!

Please Stop Serving!

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

This post was inspired in part by Jay’s ABCD training here in Richmond a few weeks ago.

Visit Wendy’s blog for the article.

Owning the Change

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

Safe Haven’s mission statement is “to effectively love, serve and empower youth in the context of their community by educating and equipping them spiritually, creatively and intellectually, that they may own the change happening in Newark.” This mission reflects a participation in God’s eternal plan to reconcile and restore all of his creation through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul affirms this in Colossians 1:20 when he states, “and through him [Jesus Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” This making of peace, or shalom, through thePrince of Peace is the working of God’s kingdom to reconcile people to Himself. It is also the work of the kingdom that restores people, communities, socio-political structures and nature itself to the image of their Creator. As God’s people participate in mercy, justice, and community development, they shine forth the light of the Kingdom; a “foretaste” of the ultimate restoration of all things when Jesus returns as triumphant King.

In the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, this light shines as Safe Haven employs teenagers and young adults from the community for their after school program and mentors them in their spiritual and social development. Growing in work responsibility, sound values, and learning how to serve the children, these teens are helping the young people to own the change in their community. Several of them have been doing surveys and speaking with other youth as to how they can own the change in their community that will result in more educational, recreational and social opportunities. Rashim has the opportunity to use his artistic gifts to teach children in the after school program. Martin is helping to organize a boxing program that will utilize discipline to help young people address important life issues. Eric Morgan, the Crossover Teen Ministry leader, is mentoring several young people who he hopes will eventually own the change as leaders in this ministry. God is planting seeds of shalom that are growing to bring transformation to this community. His kingdom is on the move in Newark!

A Wider Net – Insights from Courtney Allen

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

Can you just imagine if every congregations in this country pledged a $ to urban ministry for every $ spent on buildings? Hope you all are inspired and encouraged by this story. While there is no direct CFA connection, there are clear ABCD principals at play. Would love a church partner like this in my city!

Click here for A Wider Net – Insights from Courtney Allen

Give Till You Need Jesus!

Terri Larson – Kingdom Causes

By Tommy Nixon – Solidarity

“Give till you need Jesus!” I got the honor to MC the annual banquet for Urban Youth Workers Institute (a group of people that I deeply believe in and journey with, check it out www.uywi.org). At the end of the night the stories were told and the ask was given. As I wrapped up the night I encouraged the crowd to give till they needed Jesus and people laughed. Now granted every so often I get some good jokes in but I really wasn’t kidding. As someone who runs a non-profit that is all about getting people deep with Jesus we also have to raise funds. Yet my biggest concern for our donors and partners is not that they give to Solidarity or how much they give in dollar amounts but rather that they give in such a way that they are forced to go deeper with Jesus.

So we find ourselves in a place that most churches do. We need money to run so we provide a service (literally, many churches provide a church service, some even with Starbucks inside) and in turn give the clients something worth the money they give. That my friends is what is called transactional giving (thank you Matt Bates and Mission Increase www.missionincrease.org) instead of transformational giving. If the Church is all about discipleship then shouldn’t giving be about getting closer to Jesus through the art of dying to oneself and clinging to the true vine? John 15. We say that but then build our churches around the idea of a service or Christian oasis that non-believers will flock to and believers will feel comfortable in stadium seating. So what we offer believers is a place to join in with what Jesus is doing in the world and then help them articulate that journey. That’s a tough sell! It would be easier to just tell people we work with gang members and show pictures of how messed up our neighborhoods are to get that money, then we would be selling clear consciences and charity.

As you read you might think, “Here goes another believer being critical of the Church.” Please understand I am not angry at the Church, I am fueled by my experience with Christ to see my brothers and sisters experience the same and more. I wake up everyday believing that when the Church is healthy it is unstoppable and holistic transformation occurs. I deeply love the Church.

I know through the scriptures and experience in the Kingdom that depth with Christ does not come without great sacrifice. It does not come from giving 10%, showing up on Sundays, two week mission trips or cleaning out your garage to give to the poor. It comes from letting go, giving up and intentionally making life choices that will cause you to have to run back to Jesus to survive.

The last year and a half have been the toughest for us at Solidarity. Yet, it has been the most spiritually rewarding. We feel like we have gotten to places in our relationship with Christ that we have never experienced before. It would never have come without the pain and the struggle. It wouldn’t have come if we received pay checks on time or had excess beyond our bills. It wouldn’t have come if we didn’t choose to carry the burden of our friends and neighbors. It wouldn’t have come without deliberately placing ourselves in situations where we do not have control and are forced to run to God.

Yet a majority of the Church doesn’t really believe that. If it did I think the world would look a lot different. I think the majority of the Church believes that giving everything up for Jesus is for missionaries and other professional Christians. The tragedy is not that we don’t have enough help to do what we have been given to do, the tragedy is that many believers do not get to experience depth with Christ, which is truly a magnificent thing, yet found in dying to oneself. We are not all called to the same context, but we are all called and invited into the same way of being, values and teachings that we live by that are not bound by culture, race, context or country.

Give till you need Jesus. Give your time, talent and treasure, give until you lose yourself and find your true identity in the One that made you.

The trick is that pesky faith thing, we have to believe that on the other side of the pain and struggle, the giving away, the dying that we will experience what we were created and intended for, a deep loving relationship with our creator. Its real, its worth it, I can’t go back living any other way. Give till you need Jesus.

Kingdom Causes CFA Updates

Terri Larson – Kingdom Causes

Check out some blog posts from our partners at Kingdom Causes from the past couple of months:

A Warehouse of Hope
Anchor Baby Revolution
Alhambra City Prayerwalk Reflection

Crissy Brooks:

Call Vignettes: A Series of Surrenders 5
Call Vignettes: A Series of Surrenders 6
Call Vignettes: A Series of Surrenders 7
A View from the Mesa
Catching Up – An Update

MIKA CDC:

Unidos en Baker
Virtue and Vice
Celebrating Hope
Play
Trash

When Is It a Good Thing to Cancel a Class?

Jose Rayas – Valley Ridge Ministries

Over the years we have been here in Socorro/Montana Vista, we have seen programs cancelled due to low or decreasing enrollment. In part one has to admit that interest and benefits may be no longer suitable for the maturity level of the community. So when is it a good thing to cancel a class?

At Valley Ridge we have been holding ESL classes at the church since early September of last year. And we at the beginning had a group of approximately 20 students. At the end of March, the students themselves were talking about cancelling the class. But it was a good thing. Since the class started, 8 students secured gainful employment, and 4 started studying at the local community college in the spring semester. This leaves us with 8 students, all of whom have the desire to continue, but are also considering further studies, whether it be obtaining a GED, or attending Community College.

Of those who have exited the program, one stands out because of his vision to give back to the community.

Alejandro began the ESL class over a year ago. He was depressed, couldn’t get a job and in general, felt useless. He was encouraged to see God’s wisdom in bringing him to class and making good use of his time. First, he found a part time job at a temporary agency. Upon learning about his abilities, we worked with him to sharpen his skills.

At the present time, Alejandro has been working full time. And in addition to this, he has been giving volunteer time (5 hours per week) as a tutor at San Jacinto Community Center.

But the story does not stop there. Alejandro has made a conscious effort to be an example to the community of what can be accomplished when several people and programs can work together. We hope to see those he tutors as future tutors and leaders in the community.

New Life Community Center

Rick Droog – Siouxland Deaconal Conference

Through God’s bountiful blessings, Starfish Ministries has found wonderful space to lease for use as a community center for the KaRen refugee community on the east side of St. Paul.

Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church at the corner of Arcade Street and Larpenteur Avenue has space available which had been used by a school for the deaf. As a January 1, we are leasing three classrooms and an office.

Beginning the first Tuesday in January, tutoring of KaRen children was moved from Faith CRC in New Brighton to the new location. The space is well suited for this use and all are pleased with the change.

Then, in February, Chao Khang and the KaRen youth group began using other space at Gustavus Adoplphus. They have agreed to allow the youth group to use their youth space, called “The Fish Market” and the gym on Friday evenings.

On Saturday, February 6, adults from Grace CRC and Faith CRC worked with the KaRen youth to paint the new space and do some other sprucing up. It’s beginning to look pretty good.

Preliminary plans are being made to move ESL classes from the University Avenue location of Hmong American Partnership to the NLCC. There may be new opportunities for volunteers to help tutor the students and perhaps provide childcare for the infants and toddlers of day students.

Pastor Phonh Sinbondit is also surveying the New Life CRC congregation to see what days and times it would work to have volunteers available to help with mail and forms. This is another potential volunteer opportunity.

Recreational Opportunities For Children and Youth Work Team

Eric Smith – Think Tank

Over the course of a week, from March 21 to March 28, a core group of Lincoln residents came together to discuss one of the issues that the community had described as being a top priority for the neighborhood – increased recreational opportunities for children and youth.

During the first meeting, the group described the issue and then brainstormed and organized possible solutions (see below). At a follow-up meeting, the group developed priority areas and action plans to implement the change they wanted to see. Their plan called for the creation of two work groups – the Bobcat Elites work group with a focus on athletics and the Promise Fundraisers with a focus on resource development.

In the three weeks since this community action group formed, the Bobcat Elites work group has further developed their plan and met with the appropriate leaders at the local Elementary School where they intend to hold twice-weekly sports clinics and organized play time on Saturdays. They have been busy recruiting volunteer coaches in order to be able to offer the program for free to area children and youth. They are also seeking out curricula to integrate team-building and character building lessons into their sports activities.

Meanwhile, the Promise Fundraisers work group has begun to further develop strategies for raising money to, among other things, cover the cost of purchasing sports equipment. Plans are in the works for fundraisers like cookouts with a “Promise” menu, community garage sales, and more.

What a fun example of what can be accomplished when residents gather around the issue that they care about enough to act on!

RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH WORK TEAM

March 21, 2011

Sports

Mentoring

Field Trips

Fitness

Fundraising

Community Gatherings

Fun & Games

Weekly sports leagues Building items together to bring in math skills Bring life back to South – some activities Fitness classes Toy/clothing drive Block parties Field day competitions
Sportsmanship camp Discipline Fishing, museums, parks YMCA Concessions @ events Dances Kite flying
Sports camps Teenage workforce Nature hunt Selling dinners Include parents to build confidence and community Cornhole toss activities
Volleyball, flag football, whiffle ball Trail biking Hot dog stands Community gardening (teach to grow their own) Family outings
Free sports activities Field trips (as reward) Fund raising Gardening Arts and crafts as day camps
Day trips (as reward) Arts and crafts

Community Fruit

Jim Schepers – The Other Way

As is often the case, it takes a while for fruit to develop.  Often we look for fruit of our neighborhood Americorps listening, connecting, and convening in the increased willingness of neighborhood residents and other stakeholder to work together for their own good.  Occasionally though, the fruit of this work is the discovery of other community leaders who will not only show up and lend a hand, but will step up and organize others in the neighborhood also.   The picture below is of our Fresh Fruit – Matt.

This happy experience has been a recent development of our Americorps Member working on the west side of Grand Rapids.  He is supported by a coalition of three partners: The Other Way Ministries, Servants Community Church, and West Town Jubilee Housing.  Karl Williams, our Americorps Member, whose first hand story is provided below has proved to be both a wealth of neighborhood network connections and a non-stop advocate for neighborhood investment in making Westown a better neighborhood for all.  Every community should have a Karl.

Jim Schepers
Church and Community Development Coach
The Other Way Ministries

AMERICORPS’ FIRST COMMUNITY LEADER IS MR. MATT BATTEN. MATT HAS LIVED ON THE WEST SIDE OF GRAND RAPIDS SINCE 2009. HE ALSO WORKS AT THE FULTON PARTY STORE WHERE HE IS A VALUED EMPLOYEE. MATT WAS MY FIRST VOLUNTEER FOR THE VERY FIRST AMERICORPS PROJECT: THE WEST SIDE RAKE PROJECT, IN NOVEMBER OF 2010. THIS PROJECT WAS A RESULT OF SURVEYS BEING HANDED OUT IN THE COMMUNITY AND RETURNED TO REFLECT WHAT THE COMMUNITY WANTED, A CLEANER NEIGHBORHOOD. MATT ASSISTED IN RAKING SOME ELDERLY AND DISABLED MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY’S YARDS WHILE CONNECTING WITH NEIGHBORS AND FAMILIES, WHO SHARED SOME OF THE SAME GOALS IN WORKING TOGETHER. MATT HAS ALSO VOLUNTEERED FOR THE WEST SIDE MOVING PROJECT, WHERE HE HELPED A GROUP OF THREE VOLUNTEERS, HELP A WOMEN, WHO WAS EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT TO MOVE HER FAMILY’S BELONGINGS INTO STORAGE UNTIL HER NEW HOME WAS READY TO MOVE IN.

GRAND RAPIDS AMERICORPS, WILL WELCOME THE COMMUNITY’S FIRST COMMUNITY PROJECT LEADER. MATT BATTEN. THIS WILL BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR MATT TO FACILITATE IN CONNECTING RESIDENTS IN A DIVERSE ATMOSPHERE. THIS {ABCD} APPROACH IN BRINGING POSITIVE COLLABORATION AND SUPPORT TO THE WEST SIDE SHOWCASES THE ASSETS WAITING TO BE TAPPED INTO, AND SHOULD HAVE A GREAT OUTCOME.

KARL T. WILLIAMS  AMERICORPS

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