When one looks at the social issues surrounding us right here in the United States—poverty, crime, lack of solid educational and job opportunities… It is easy to become overwhelmed and intimidated. What could one person, what could I, do as a Christian?
My first impulse is to close my eyes to the outside world, doing my best to create a world of harmony for my family and friends. I donate to good causes on the faint hope that someone else can create a better world. Yet sometimes a voice from within whispers, “Stretch out of your comfort zone and go into your neighborhood as salt and light.” What does Jesus want from me?
There is an Answer—NEIGHBORHOOD TRANSFORMATION
What Neighborhood Transformation is
• Going into a community, walking with the people in the community and helping show we are all made in the image of God. It starts with simply developing RELATIONSHIP.
• Then LISTEN. What do the community people want to do? What are their dreams?
• Then HELP THEM make their dreams a reality by:
x Using their assets.
x Doing the work themselves.
x Directing the efforts themselves.
x Starting small with projects such as entertainment or cleanup.
x Following that success with a more ambitious project.
• CONTINUE—stay with the work. You and others will find Jesus right in that neighborhood. People will realize they can transform their neighborhood by working together. We can all be PART OF THE RECONCILATION JESUS IS DOING NOW.
• What Neighborhood Transformation is not
• Not doing for—it is doing with. We are all open to the transforming power of God and we are teaching and listening to each other.
• Not YOUR Agenda. You are helping the community find God’s plan for them as they discover it themselves.
• NOT a transaction; it is a relationship.
• Not quick, it is long-term. Jesus has been reconciling the world to Himself for 2000 years and is not finished yet. Why would we believe we can rush transformation?
• Not you alone; it is the community. You focus on teaching the community to multiply and grow. They supply the effort.
What Neighborhood Transformation Produces:
• Transformed people—physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.
• Reconciled people—education improves because parents get involved in their children’s schooling. Blight is removed because people care.
• Cooperating people—producing education and job opportunities.
• Redeemed people—finding Jesus living within them in the neighborhood.
• Giving people—sharing these results with others in additional communities.
These things occur because we, as Jesus’ disciples, follow the way in which He ministered on earth. He lived with people, loved people, and served through creating relationships with people.