Asset Based Community Development: A Personal Transformation

Jim Moynihan-One Church

I have been mindful of the church being a potential community change agent for the Kingdom of God all of my ministry life.  However, I have not had the skills or the language to bring about a transformational ministry in a meaningful or sustained manner in area neighborhoods.  Learning about and being trained in ABCD principles through the Communities First Association for the past two years has given me hope and equipped me to engage area neighborhoods differently.  But, I have remained frustrated by the lack of engagement on the part of the body of Christ in these communities.

Through a recent CFA recommendation I read, When Helping Hurts, and Toxic Charity.   These books, and the detailed application of the principles they provide, have given me the tools I needed to think through the application of ABCD principles in my context.  I have been able to evaluate my approaches to date and to jettison those strategies that have been ineffective or inappropriate to the specific community development efforts I have been making. This has transformed my thinking and my approach to reaching neighborhoods and area churches and Christians for the purpose of community development.  In particular, I am recognizing my own resistance to applying ABCD principles even though I believe in them.

For example, my compassion for the poor and hurting leads me to get involved in to/for ministries even though I know these are temporary fixes and not solutions. I also realize my motivation to help, to serve, is often part of our corporate desire to feel good about ourselves; that we are doing a good thing in Jesusʼ name. It is truly difficult to recognize these feelings and behaviors as being potentially hurtful.

My concern at this point is how to champion ABCD in ways that will be helpful among area communities without alienating the many well-intentioned efforts of area ministries in the process.  A recent change in my approach is to share these books and their concepts with several ministry friends. There has been a positive response to this so far. Steve Edwards and Tom Andrews, who are involved with the Breakthrough Center in Hampton, have asked me to meet with them to discuss community strategies. Our OneChurch board is also reaching out to the Lackey area of York County to explore with opportunities.

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