The 8 Keys to Ministry In Housing Schemes (3)

The 8 Keys to Ministry In Housing Schemes (3)

Part III: Developing Community Skills

Robert Lupton would call this a ‘redistribution of resources’. His logic being (albeit from a community development perspective):

1. We live in the area we are trying to reach

2. We work toward a ministry of reconciliation at a Godward level and a community level

Then (3) we are, hopefully, going to see a redistribution of community skills and resources. What exactly does he mean by this? When God’s people commit to moving back into areas of urban deprivation then they are bringing their specific gift set back in for the benefit of the wider community. They enrich it almost by default. The creative and intellectual resources which left in large numbers are now returning. Just by living in a community and trying to be a responsible neighbour, a Godly witness for Jesus, and seeking the good and betterment of the community,  we are seeing this principle in practice. If this is true for one individual, then imagine the power of a committed band of Christ followers? Imagine the influence for good they could have even in the darkest place?

So, a skilled and professional workforce re-enters the community. The creative minds are returning to make their mark. Community renewal is happening without even having to strategise it (which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do this). With new people come new relationships and new resources. New skill sets can be taught to existing community members for the benefit of all. Cultural and economic transformation can start to come about in a one to one context, where some these new skills are learned and passed on. Worldviews can be shared to bring depth, understanding and a broadening of the mind. This, incidentally, is why I believe that gentrification is not really a bad thing.

Churches can get involved by developing ministries that seek to harness the, often, latent ‘gifts’ of local people and find avenues in which they can express themselves, such as art clubs, drama groups, literacy classes, apprenticeships and work experience placements (indeed a whole host of ideas according to the particular contextual needs of the area). This is the sort of thing we are trying to encourage at NCC. We offer people chances to help with admin, office work, cooking in the cafe, basic accounting skills, computing and we have plans for a host of others with the development of our Back2Work initiative.

All these things, of course, are merely avenues for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which is to be proclaimed loud and clear. He will bring about the only true, lasting change, both spiritual and physical. But, we don’t hang about waiting for people to repent before we make a contribution to better our community. We do it regardless of the response to our message. It is a sign that the message we proclaim has a basis in reality by how we lives our lives and share them as a body of believers, and with our wider community.

Heady stuff which I am still digesting.