Asset Based Community Development: Working “With” the Community

CFA Executive Director, Jay Van Groningen, responds to a comment from a recent post, and discusses the idea of “In, To, or With:”

“How does one listen to neighbors in a way that: 1. Discovers what neighbors care about enough to act on it? 2. Discovers what gifts they bring to the things they want to work on? 3. Helps neighbors discover their neighbors who care about the things they care about – so they can work on them together?

Personally,  I resist those programs and ministries that churches want to start, control and implement to/for their neighbors. I think it is much healthier when church comes along and supports the good things neighbors care about doing. Then the church and community can work together on how to sustain the good work. If ministry is done really well, the church does not need to own or control the ministry, it gets to support it in the ways that bless ministry and the congregation. If ministry is done really well, the community eagerly accepts and embraces the church members participation on a level, respectful, playing field (with respect to power in and control). They enjoy getting good things done together.”

Here are some further thoughts…

The Church “With” the Community:

  • desires to influence the community.
  • desires community stakeholders to influence it.
  • spends significant resources (time, talent, goods) in the community.
  • utilizes planning and assessment processes that are influenced by both church members and community stakeholders, and makes decisions based on the impact desired by church members and neighbors.
  • serves and develops the community for reasons and with with methods that bring transformational impact to the community and church alike.
  • looks for and unleashes the gifts, skills, and resources already present in the community.
  • is a convener of the community, a servant to the community, adding value to residents and the community as a whole; a net contributor to the community even though it does not pay taxes.

(Communities First, p. 10)  Go to the Store for more information on this resource.


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