Friday, March 30, 2007

"The Word made flesh dwelt among us"

Mike Broadway over at Earth as it is in Heaven has just started a series of blogs on the principles of Christian Community development (CCD). I first met Mike, a theology and ethics professor at Shaw University Divinity School, at a conference about three years ago. At that time, Estela and I were struggling to develop a strategy for ministry to the decaying inner-city areas of Nassau. Mike suggested that I read the works of CCD pioneer John Perkins, which I began to do immediately upon my return home from the conference. That turned out to be a major turning point for us and our ministry, a journey that I eventually hope to document on this blog.

The first and foundational principle of Christian community development is relocation, which Mike describes as follows:
As a principle of incarnational ministry, relocation insists that a calling to serve people is a calling to live among them. The Gospel of John says that the Word Made Flesh dwelt ("tabernacled," pitched a tent) among us. I like to say it this way: the Word became flesh and moved in next door. Jesus came to all the world, but he did so in one place, among one people. Lacking his own home, perhaps we should say that the Word became flesh and slept on a pallette in our spare room.
Having defined what relocation means, Mike goes on to explain why it is important:

Why is relocation important? It is not merely an answer to WWJD. It is also built on sociological observation. It has to do with race and class analysis. It has to do with our social psychology. We tend to act on things that directly affect us. If there is a pothole in the street near your driveway, you are the one who is most likely to raise some noise to try to get it fixed. If there are dozens of potholes in another neighborhood where you do not live and where you never drive, it is very unlikely that you will even be aware of them. You are almost guaranteed not to become an activist over those potholes. Our residence affects what problems drive us to act.
I was especially challenged by Mike's description of the implications of relocation for our churches, in general, and pastoral leadership, in particular.

If I am a pastor of a church but I don't live in the neighborhood where the church's building stands and where the church meetings occur, then I am mostly a visitor to the neighborhood. I may spend many hours in the building, working in an office, having meetings with others who drive to the church from across town to attend meetings, and strategizing about the church's work. At key times of the week, I lead and participate in large gatherings for worship, study, and fellowship, and after two or three hours I lock up and go home. If I think about the neighborhood, it may be focused on how the adjoining properties could become part of a larger church plant, or about how the look of the neighborhood buildings and people might make people nervous about attending the church.
Sounds quite a bit like our situation here in Nassau, huh?

If this piece got you thinking, you might want to check the rest of it out here.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home