Grassroots Community Development:
Why we operate the way we do at LINC
Many years ago our organization began with a unique approach to ministry. Instead of continuing to import leadership and resources into communities, we made it our priority to identify and empower local leadership. This is our approach both in church planting and community development. We believe that all communities have assets and resources that God can use to grow His Kingdom and improve people's lives.
The Apostle Paul, in his third missionary journey, invested time and energy in people from the local communities where he worked. When he got to a city, he didn't immediately call for professional leaders to move there and lead the ministry. Instead, he equipped local leaders to form new communities and carry out the mission of the church in that place. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily (Acts 19:20).
This doesn't mean that outside help isn't sometimes needed. Training, tools, access to resources, knowledge, and skills are all valuable contributions that partners can make from the outside of a community. The difference in the approach is one of empowerment versus dependency, or asset-based versus needs-based. An asset-based approach seeks to train and equip individuals to eventually solve their own problems. In contrast, a needs-based approach perpetually does for and gives to communities in need.
What communities need are individuals committed to building them up through their resources of time, energy and skill. There are a lot of reasons that people give for not investing in low-income communities. Many of these reasons are based on long-held stereotypes, past experience, lack of understanding or just misinformation. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, people often don't act because they don't know where to start. We suggest that, instead of looking for people to go give things to, compassionate individuals should develop meaningful partnerships with local leaders already in place.
How does LINC do this work?
First of all, we empower local leaders in a community (usually through a local mission church) to identify and meet the needs of their own community. Leaders in a community are more likely to know what the real needs are. They are also more likely to know who is truly in need and who is not.
Second, we train local leaders how to impact a wider group. One of the benefits of local leadership is that they are known and trusted by the community. They often have dreams of doing something greater in their community, but have access to a limited supply of resources. We spend a lot of time training local leaders how to obtain, develop, manage and utilize more resources to build up their communities.
Third, we maintain a partnering relationship, but also purposely get out of the way so that local groups can eventually grow without the need for outside help.
Fourth, we connect leadership from one community to train and empower leaders from another community. This creates an interdependent network of communities and allows local leaders to grow by becoming a resource to others.
How Can You Help?
If you are a well-resourced individual, there is a great need for what you have to offer. It may surprise you how a different approach to missions and community work can multiply your resources instead of simply transferring them to another community.