What is Community Development?
From Christian perspective community development is about holistic ministry - caring for both the physical and spiritual needs of a community.
For LINC, it means that local Christians in our mission churches learn to embrace the vision, take hold of the values, practice the skills; and gain control of the ministry so that the church or mission agency which initiated the ministry can withdraw, leaving the local Christians to carry it on and expand it.
Instead of saying we funnel our community development work through our churches, I would say that we are empowering the local community leaders in our churches to identify and meet the needs of their own communities. The community is both the means and the end of community development. The community itself takes action and participates together.
Why Community Development?
It is about seeking the welfare of people in the community for the sake of the Gospel. To God, not only spiritual wellness matters, but holistic wellness in areas of social, inter-personal, emotional, physical, financial, intellectual, and vocational health. Martin Luther said, “This life, therefore, is not godliness, but the process of becoming godly, not health, but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way.”
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 (ESV)
It is not driven by and for the community, but driven to, with and alongside the community. Caring for the needy and sharing the Gospel goes hand-in-hand. However, the ultimate goal of community development is not just helping the poor and the needy. Instead of just offering to a poor community many free things that go down a black hole, it invests that same money in jobs, businesses, or other projects that continue to stay behind and affect the area’s business and economics.
How do we do Community Development?
LINC’s role is one of facilitation. It means helping local ministry and business leaders to not only see the vision through God’s missional eyes, but also empower leaders from community to the community.
The Case of Nehemiah by GARY A. GOREHAM
- recognize the need. (Neh 2:1-3)
- prayer. (Neh 2:4)
- resource assessment. (Neh 2:5-9)
- be sensitive to opposition
- do the homework. (Neh 2:11-15).
- enlist the aid of the people. (Neh 2:16-18)
- evaluation and celebration. (Neh 12:27)