Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Power of Relocation, part two

The Power of Relocation, part two
See Part One below....

Notes on reading John Perkins, from my class I am teaching this semester at Phillips Theological Seminary.... 

1.      We notice the importance of “volunteers” who come into Perkins’ area of Mississippi to serve with them, even though they do not live there; one way of looking at volunteers from other areas is to see them as “potential residential relocaters” and thus as neighbors from the start, because as his story reveals people on fire with mission and passion do move across town, across the country, across the world, even though at first it might be just “getting the feet wet.” When the underlying basis is relational, not program outcome oriented, that fosters the possibilities of relocation and deeper transformation.

2.      Expect bumpy roads and failures as part of the growing learning relational process. Note how he discusses the “lack of social awareness” of white suburban evangelical whites while working with the social justice oriented black church and community. He called it a disaster, but it was only a stumbling block step. Most of the problems seem to stem in some ways from adopting the default mode of tasks vs. process, or of being too focused on accomplishing something visible and programmatic in a short time for the good feelings of the volunteers instead of cultivating relationships which sow seeds of much greater change.

      We were blessed with the passion and commitment and connection of a white progressive social justice whirlwind with many connections and a big deep heart, and yet his “getting things done” approach which worked wonders in many areas of town butted up against our culture of a much slower time frame, slower pace, building trust and relationships first and seeing if people and organizations were going to last and be serious or leave quickly, another notch in their annual report about what outreach they were doing; many times these personality differences can lead to great things because of a diversity of approaches, but often they lead to paralysis; the faster one person moves from outside the area, the slower or more resistant our neighbors might be in response; it is one of the ways they exert the power they do have. On the other hand, the slower relational influence gaining before you do anything approach does turn off even some of the local activists, especially the younger ones, who see all talk and all meetings and very little accomplishments; so it can cost people-resources even from within. I wish all relationships and endeavors could begin with daylong retreats, orientation sessions, sharing of personality and leadership style gifts inventories, in order to name the differences before beginning to work together. There are often also hard and hurt feelings that result on the parts of both local residents and outside volunteers due to these rushed-into projects. A take-away on this is that no volunteers, or local hosting residents, will be without fault in some ideal way, and the illusions on this actually make it worse and lead to dis-illusionment. But, fearing any mistakes, some people will resist “getting their feet wet” in any way in any form of relocation and service, which is not what is intended and helps no one.

3.      Notice how he treats volunteering also not as an aspect of individualism, just for the personal growth of the one who is volunteering, but he sees them as part, ideally, of a community, and he reinforces their own community connections, and encourages them to do things in their own backyards, connecting them with their wider community, using their time with his community as training ground, not replacement.

4.      Perkins begins chapter 9 of With Justice For All, on the strategy for the here and now by making reference to The twin towers of Christian mission in Luke 4 and Matthew 25. When people ask me how our community discerns what its mission should be (expecting a series of meetings and votes and even prayer discernment, etc.) I tell them that our mission is already laid out for us, our reason for being comes from Jesus’ mission as set out as Perkins describes in quoting Luke 4 and Matthew 25 (I can also resonate with those who find it, ala Rick Warren or Bill Easum, in The Great Commandment and The Great Commission, but usually have to nuance those or add to it a bit to explain what shape that takes; for the Great Commandment I add on that it is a preface to the deeper point of who our neighbor is we are to love and Jesus’ answer to that was given in the parable of the man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and so the Great Commission is to make disciples who carry out that radical great commandment; my way of connecting the two.) But the place and people of mission are expressly named in Luke 4 and Matthew 25. Perkins adds that no one, not even the rich or comfortable, are to be excluded from the mission of the church, but one way to bring the gospel to them, one way to commission them, is to put them alongside Jesus’ mission to the poor, to meet them where they may be in their gated communities, for example, but not to leave them there, contented. This is a change and a challenge to a church culture for many over centuries who saw getting people into such communities of safety and convenience and wealth as one of the fruits of the gospel. 

      Perkins says in this chapter that the very difficulty of the question for people reveals its power and truth for their lives, and those who initially resist it the most are often the ones whom it would benefit the most and who are being called. (A lesson from Jonah of course there.) In my case doing ministry as a newly ordained white pastor with church planting credentials and interests and ending up in an abandoned low income low life expectancy predominantly African American zipcode was not what I had originally intended. It only took a series of failures/learnings in a different upscale suburban zipcode to re-orient me back to the zipcode nearby where I am now, where I had been raised and much of my family remains even though the demographics have changed greatly around them in the past 40 years. But for some, it is actually achieving success in such an environment, accomplishing what they ostensibly set out to do, building and growing a church plant and community and getting noted and success from it that turns into leaving them floundering, stuck on treadmills of meeting continuing expectations of upward mobility and constant growth in numbers, that causes them to rethink their calling and to relinquish the “trappings” and to relocate. For some it can come from pastoring in an aging church that is stuck and trying to replicate the past in a changed environment, a process that just keeps adding stress to the system and losing members until they have to come up with creative ways of turning their buildings over to others in the community and meeting as guests and supporters in their own building; or they will out of desperation take other steps to turn themselves inside out and relocate, such as dividing up their 80 some members into eight groups based on how close people live to one another and announcing that these groups are now their church home, and to meet in homes or other places, as missional communities that will come together monthly for worship and sharing what they are doing in their neighborhoods, and the pastor who was struggling to survive as a full time pastor in the old model will have found a bivocational job that helps him meet ends and frees him to focus on connecting the groups, and he may move close to his new job in a poorer section of town, which prompts some of his parishoners to do the same. The take-away? Be open to a variety of ways you might be led to living more closely with the poor and suffering.

5.      “That’s why you need to go” Perkins says over and over again to the reasons he hears people give for not going. Each fear can be the opening to a more loving transformative relationship. But in this chapter Perkins gives a step by step path for how to relocate which says it is best not to do it impulsively, quickly, even with the best intentions. Notice the way he encourages people to keep involving more and more people into their decision on relocation, and how that also helps to slow down the decision, the move, the immediate impact (my observation is that often it is an over-drama, freneticism, anxiety that marks the very lives of people in need, and the way we can tend to “treat” them just adds to what ails them.) It is interesting also that we may seek to replace the real transformation of relocation and relationships over time with the “short term mission trips” that are now coming under increased scrutiny as people look at the problems and waste they often engender and, while mostly seeking to keep some element of them, to reform how such trips are made. These trips may actually be a way to keep from doing the discernment that Perkins is calling for about what it is that is keeping us away from more radical, more effective, life choices. Note also the options he has found that help people to relocate and address their fears in a common sense way; it is a kind of “marginal among the marginal” ministry, living in close geographic proximity with those you are serving but not directly amid them if there are reasons for it, and using that location to help you be a bridge for others.

6.       A summary of the strategy:

 A. get to know the area by working with others in it or working with a group that works with the poor in another area.
 B. Share your vision with the church.
C. Form a ministry team.
 D. Become a community over a year or two.
 E. Get special training for your team or a big part of it.
 F. Choose the community of most needs.
 G. Outline a target area: this is important as we have a tendency to take on too much and dilute our relationship power; he says if the community has a lot of subdivisions then your target area might be simply six blocks; if it is an area of apartments your area might be one single apartment complex.
 H. Build relationships and allow even the friends you have made first to help you choose where to live and to point you to it.
 I. Listen to the people, visit them, invite them. Plan to stay.
J. Once you begin to act, begin with bible study or prayer group.
 K. Work with children.
 L. Raise up indigenous leaders to take over what you start.
 M. Join or establish a church in the area; join is the first and best option, but if can’t find healthy one, start one.
 N. Respond to the needs, begin the redistribution.
O. In developing leaders to help you in the sustaining work of the 3Rs and replicating them with other people, I like to use and adapt his three ways of recognizing gifted people to work with: those who evidence
1. “lordship of Christ” or what is referred to as “people of peace” (Luke 10); non-anxious presences, people of inner abundance even amid much external scarcity;
2. Servanthood, are they willing to be led, see where their growing edges are?
3. Fellowship,  are they comfortable participating in all aspects of community?

7.      In the Update section on relocation, there is a nuance about a sense of urgency. While he has been mapping out a way of gradual and deeper engagement, he sees this need to be balanced with starting the process out of a sense of urgency, but it is an urgency about the plight of people, not urgency about project completions. It does remind me how the culture of permission-giving and vulnerability and trust we have been talking about this semester lends itself to “urgent responses” or immediate action, and I think about instances here when we have waited and waited for officials to take care of blighted intersections or properties (sometimes out of a sense of just seeing how long it will take, getting a story of powerful neglect) and then we will “all of a sudden” just go “guerilla garden or cleanup” the property ourselves without waiting on getting any permission from some out of state owner or from officials who have been neglecting the blight. We like to foster people feeling empowered to do that themselves though “not on their own” but in sharing with others. Sometimes that it taking over an intersection full of constant trash and weeds and turning it into a beautiful space (see, or in graffiti painting over, or giving out food at least once to someone in need even if they don’t meet all of the requirements expected simply because they are there and in need. Random acts of justice, kindness, and beauty are often done in spontaneous actions, or those where one feels the presence of the Spirit leading them, and as is usual in such cases, it is good to bring in others as well who can help you; even a sense of urgency doesn’t negate the sense of community. Sometimes it is during these acts of urgency, and these one-time practices that might be skirting regulations, that you get ideas and experiences and doorways open that allow you to take the more systemic route of justice.

      An example: once early in our relocation and community ministry here, we decided to get big planters full of beautiful flowers and on Easter Eve night in the dark we would go along all of the blighted run down abandoned business buildings along our major thoroughfare and place these big flower pots so that when people got up and about on Easter morning they would be surprised to see these bits of beauty lining the streets and turning blight into beauty; it would make their Easter and the community a little brighter. But when we got up at Easter dawn ourselves to go experience it, we discovered that they had been dumped over, the pots and the flowers in many cases stolen and a pile of dirt left instead, sometimes piles of dirt with flowers buried in them. What was meant to be beauty turned out to be adding more blight. What we had failed to understand was the culture of “kicked to the curb” and how people would take any opening to get something that they could later sell if they thought it was theirs for the taking, and these were just sitting there by the side of the avenue in front of buildings that were obviously not being used anymore either. Besides deeper understanding of our neighborhood culture, what that led to as a take-away was that we needed to use not big pots but actually flower beds into the ground, and so we shifted our efforts to actual planting of beds in front of some of these areas, which took longer but had a more lasting effect, and was still in the “guerilla” mode, and it led to our offering to do beds for free to local businesses, and so it deepened relationships.  So, an act out of a sense of urgency, even though it backfired, led to learnings which led to our original intent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Small Acts of Justice Done With Great Love: our latest report

Hi all. Feel free to share with others...

From our beginning, one of our taglines that guide us has been borrowed from Mother Teresa, the call to do "small acts of justice with great love". By small acts we mean we are as devoted to the one on one encounters, to the meetings where two show up instead of twenty, even to the solitary act of one person going out of their way to help when no one ever knows what they did. By justice we mean the desire to "make right" or "to bring into alignment" (as in how a row of type is justified) what has been broken or put askew either by life itself, by powers of oppression and especially the powers of abandonment and neglect and isolation; it is more about the process we commit to daily than an outcome always over the horizon. By "great love" we mean with humility, with vulnerability for our shared humanness, and always with copious amounts of forgiveness and grace. In this way, we have been very busy of late, too busy to stop, sadly, and report, and we have many opportunities coming up for more small acts of justice done with great love. You are invited to participate, to support.

1. See the latest reflection on an inspiring presentation I attended at OU Tulsa, and my response to it, on health care and poverty and innovations that could disrupt the status quo, and why the status quo is killing us, literally, from our area perspective in the 74126, at

2. Also, from my perspective as a community resident in the McLain school feeder area, as an alum of McLain, and as a board member on the McLain Foundation, I was promoting the recent public survey about ideas for how to grow learning and justice at our area high school currently being studied from many outsiders (which has both good and bad tendencies), and so here is my response from my own heart and observations: More will be coming up soon about the McLain Foundation and our need for more to get involved, both with current projects like sending aviation students on their first flight and to a field trip, but also to long term systemic growth for the Foundation and its mission of helping the community and the school. See below for the coming week's projects here with McLain students and OU students.

3. We have been busy transforming one half of one of our building wings into an expanded "cornerstore food pantry" which is also opening up a new room for more meeting space, and we have expanded our Clothing Room into renovated space in our large Community Room which we have only been able to use for storage up to now. We had a wonderful visit again by the Food Bank mobile food van, and we were able to reach out to new folks in our area who were not yet a part of our food program. Thanks to both The Lighthouse Academy Charter School in our 74126 service area, and to Sperry Elementary School in our 74073 pantry service area for help in connecting us with families. We also gave out food from that visit, some four tons in total, to many other people in our area during our new First Saturday Pantry day.

4. There is still much to be done in the coming months on these projects at our The Welcome Table Community Center, and we are getting help this week on them and other projects from special events with OU Tulsa graduate students and with Tulsa McLain students as part of service learning and the Smart Choices=Healthy Living grant. Monday, Feb. 25, come from 5:30 to 8 pm, dinner included, as we work with the students as they get hands-on experiences in community renewal...Earlier that day, at 2 pm we will hold a planning meeting toward starting a community fair for seniors, age 60 and above, and for a senior citizens center in our area north of 46th St., and a survey of area seniors to help guide us. All interested welcome. And congratulations to our neighbors and partners, Sarah's Residential Living Center, north of McLain, on their 10th anniversary. What a good model of care and love they embody.

5. Or come and spread the news about Wednesday, from 10 am to 4 pm as we host the Tulsa Health Dept.'s important free screening clinic where people will not only get results of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body indexes, but also get the chance to visit with medical mentors and referrals as needed. That will be between 10 am and 2 pm. And our weekly food pantry will be going on as well from Noon to 4 pm. Share info on both of these events. And the OU and McLain students will be working with us on this day, too, from 1:30 to 4 pm....At the very start of the day Wednesday, 7:30 am breakfast at the Regional Food Bank, Deb Carroll and I will be talking with a group from the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries about our food justice and faith commitments.

6. Before that, Don't forget Tuesday Feb. 26 our weekly preparation volunteering at 10 am, all welcome to come and help us get ready for the week, or that evening's two meetings at O'Brien Park Center with the Turley Community Association, 6 pm planning meeting to get updates and work on the Fire Dept.'s important and much needed Fire District campaign; see the attached flier, and reports on other matters in the community, and then at 7 pm for the Town Hall public forum.

7. Other opportunities to grow as a person and help our community grow, to serve and connect with other people: Turley Area Alliance Against Crime, neighborhood watch, Thur. Feb. 28, 6:30 pm at the Community Center, every last Thursday.....Our Art Studio Free For All Ages, lunch included, Community Art Days at the Center, Fri.-Sat. Mar. 8-9, Fri.-Sat. April 5-6, and Sat. Apr. 20, 10 am to 4 pm each day...Turley and Far North Legal Aid. Call Sara Cherry 918-295-9461 for appointments...
Community Pancake Breakfast, Sat. Mar. 9, 8 to 10 am, Odd Fellows, 6227 N. Quincy Ave. $5 for all you care to eat; kids under 10 eat free....
Every Saturday, 9 am. Get Your Own Garden Bed, Seeds, or Help Grow for the Pantry, at our Community GardenPark and Orchard, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. call 9183463475.
On Sat. Mar. 16, we will host a gathering at the park of the Tulsa Community Gardening Association....
Recovery 12 step groups. Saturdays, 6 pm and 7:30 pm, at the community center....Turley Water Board Public Meeting, Last Working Day of Month, 8:30 am, 6108 N. Peoria Ave. Turley Fire Dept. Meetings Thursdays, 7 PM, Fire Station, 6408 N. Peoria.

8. The Welcome Table missional community is holding a series of weekly Sunday 11 am movies and prayers and meals for all welcome during Lent and Easter, focusing on reconciliation, redistribution, relocation, the 3Rs of community renewal. Feb. 24, Chocolat; Mar. 3, Jesus of Montreal, Mar. 10 Spitfire Grill, Mar. 17, Pay It Forward, Mar. 24, The Mission, Maundy Thursday, Mar. 28, Babette's Feast, and Easter Sunday, Mar. 31, Places in the Heart....Those 3Rs are inspired by the work of the African-American civil rights leader and community renewal guru at the Christian Community Development Association, John Perkins. Here is a great article about him in the Jackson, MS paper: And speaking of Lent, it was a great honor to be a part of this year's Ash Wednesday Ashes to Go ministry on the streets of Tulsa. I worked with a colleague saying prayers and giving the imposition of ashes with people outside the downtown bus station on a cold Ash Wednesday day made warmer by the hospitality and sharing of those who came by and received ashes and gave of themselves and the hopes and struggles of their day. more at Did the same to some who requested it at our food pantry time that day. We had our Ash Wednesday service that evening before a leadership informal circle of sharing and planning and coordinating and meal.

9. Much more is happening on big issues, on small little projects, on outreach to others, on inreach to grow leaders, on building our own capacity to respond quickly to opportunities that are congruent with our mission. Chances are if you have a passion, a project, a partnership, we will have a way to connect with it.

10. I have been invited to preach in April at the annual convention of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental province, and am trying to raise funds to get there since they are among the poorest of the islands and can't afford the airfare, but will provide hospitality once there. I figure if we all kick in a little we can help make it happen so I have a site for donations and more information, particularly about their fascinating history, at I hope you can contribute and spread the giving opportunity. I look forward to bringing their good news back to you all.

11. I am tremendously enjoying teaching this semester a supervised ministry course at, especially concerned with ministry in and with and to the wider community. Here is a recent blogpost about The Power of Relocation, and its many varieties but centrality for mission. Check back often for updates and other lecture notes and comments that give background to why we do what we do where we do it with whom we do it.

12. On March 7 we will be getting training in order to better educate area residents about the ins and outs and benefits of the SNAP program of food assistance (old food stamps program), and also that Thursday at 3:30 pm we will have our important monthly planning and work sessions for partners to connect with our needs in the area.

Hope to see you soon, or visit with you online, and thanks for your support as we seek to "do small acts of justice with great love."
blessings, and more soon, Ron
ps I had a refreshing time late last month meeting new friends and partnerships at the recent gathering of the and look forward to more connections.
Other websites that influence our ministry here:

The Power of Relocation, Part One

Some missional reflections on the power of relocation and leadership development from my seminary class I am teaching this semester, from John Perkins book With Justice For All, on community development: 
Week 3: Relocation, Part One: A Strategy For Community Development
Background Lecture Notes to Reading, chapters 6 and 7, and Discussion Question

Which of the 3 Rs (relocation, redistribution, reconciliation) do you begin with? That is a question I get asked when I do workshops and talks on community renewal and the 3Rs, and it is one I have pondered as well. It is the desire for the end or aim of reconciliation that often causes us to want to relocate where greatest need is, and in a way it is the willingness to re-distribute ourselves that leads to re-location. But, as Perkins says clearly in this week’s reading, re-location comes first. Action, instinct, trust, showing up is the first step, even when we don’t have things worked out in our heads and heart, even when the aims aren’t clear, even when reconciliation seems unattainable and broken and our very actions cause setbacks.

Perkins talks about the shocking scandal of his “being alongside” the people in work, in play, in life, throughout the week and not just on Sunday or evening committee meetings. This is a frame that is echoed in the recent work of community mission, “Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission For Everyday People” by Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford in their four “moves”: move out (into missional engagement), move in (burrowing down, or incarnational living), move alongside (engaging in relational networks), and move from (challenging certain aspects of our culture). In a sense, Perkins pivotal moment of faith and transformation came when he was in California, after he had left the initial struggles of growing up in Mississippi’s oppressive land, when he was engaging in biblical study with prisoners, reading the bible with them began to open up his own eyes, and he was struck by the verse from the Apostle Paul in Galatians:” I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This is at heart a scripture about relocation within one’s relationship with Christ, emptying one’s sense of the world, moving it out of one’s lives, so that Christ’s sense of the world and of you can move in. As Perkins often writes about the incarnation of God into the world as a critical act of relocation, so Christ moving into him/us is an act of relocation that then prompts our own into the world. The famous “praise speech” in Paul’s letter to the Phiippians, of “kenosis” or emptying in order to help fill up the world with God, exemplifying servant leadership, is another often inspiring text for church in community settings.

Perkins quotes the black liberation theologian James Cone in order to posit the primacy of Christians becoming and living out faithfulness as they identify with the poor. This is something that Jim Wallis of Sojourners also holds forth when he reminds us of scripture pointing out that the community, the person, that follows Jesus faithfully will always “have the poor among you.” That is one of the ways one’s Christian faith will be known by others, to the degree one has the poor among them. What happens when this happens, Perkins says, is that “your needs become my needs” and this shared approach creates relationship, and in the relationship the church becomes as much a receiver as a giver. To what extent are we as communities of Christ putting ourselves in the position to receive? This in itself has benefits for the church because the church that only sees itself as a giver, as a doer, will begin to take on the idolatrous notions that it is indispensable one, and often as that church may age or find itself in the midst of cultural change and not in the same position of power and giving ability as it once had the church will then be filled with shame, sense of failure, of helplessness, and in turning inward will put its limited energy into its own destructive conflict; it is a classic case of community burnout as the always giving church, never putting itself in a position to receive from others, never having shared needs, will burnout and not be able to do any giving at all.

You might be amazed at the breadth and depth of the ministries and programs and initiatives begun and that took root through the ministry Perkins was leading in that abandoned part of the Empire; so many are listed and chronicled in our reading. You might think that the church was a mega-church for all that was mentioned, but in some ways in its own local area it has de-centralized and spread its influence rather than amassing it; and Perkins re-located again from Mississippi back to California in the 1980s and most of the 90s, back to one of the highest crime areas and gang areas in California. Such re-seeding spread his influence nationally and helped his own learning, but it meant not growing only in one particular place with his organization, especially after he started the national CCDA. And, his methods were not always understood and were not popular by even many in the African American religious community in Mississippi, but his local connections and ministries were aided by the relationship and relocation of others to serve with his ministries there.

One question that often comes up, in looking at the kinds of social services and helping ministries that he and others in his group helped launch, is “But aren’t those things that others are or should be doing, such as social and civic groups and the government, so that the church can focus on its own agenda?” But that often betrays a position of privilege and expectation, one that assumes that there are civic groups and that government has resources and willingness to renew poor and suffering communities, when in reality the decline of the communities and of any of their residents being people with influence, and the difficulties of the poor making it hard to take time to organize and advocate and to be able to support their own non-profits in their own communities means that there are really no other groups in the area that can, or will, fill in the huge gaps. Perkins ministries became engaged in these projects because no one else was, though they succeeded through cooperation with others. As he describes the various groups that have been involved in their community renewal work it reveals that all the legs of the anti-poverty stool have been used as a foundation: non-profit, business, and government cooperating with one another.
While the social service and organizing of neighbors became the visible face of the ministry, don’t neglect Perkins point that it was also a way of evangelizing through action, because people astounded at what was going on would begin to ask why they were doing what they were doing in the place they were doing it, when people with sense they would say, had left the area, including churches. But that gives them an opening to then share their testimonies of faithfulness guiding them, and sharing in a way that might not be possible only on the face of it without the corollary stories of holistic needs being met.

Relocating helps to inoculate against the tendencies he describes of people starting programs that those in the community don’t need, as badly at least, and thus creating things meant to save a people that instead helps to further their own demise. It is important for us to keep this uppermost in our minds and to question our ministries and our partners on how their laudable desire for helping could be hindering. At the other end of the spectrum you have an equally destructive tendency: those who stay out of making any connections or relationships or commitments to communities of the poor because they are afraid of stumbling, hindering, putting their needs first.
So, in the second chapter in our reading for this week, we see one alternative for this dilemma of who gives leadership, who controls and decides on programs, etc. It is for the community itself to create and grow and multiply its leadership from itself instead of having to rely so much on the presence of those from outside, even from those who have returned and relocated. Bear in mind too how he says those who are returning, like himself, often have the hardest difficulty in relocating, because of their having the experience of desiring to leave in the first place. And note that this undertaking, of growing leaders who will return and help the renewal, is shaped by a long-range vision, multi generationally in some cases. This is another distinction of the Christian Community Development strategies or practices that set it apart from other approaches, especially governmental ones, but even personal ones, that want to see quick results and statistics to prove success. Note also the section on success in chapter 7; it is a good description of that difference he wrote about earlier between God’s Dream and the American Dream. This being success in the eyes of the world approach can be counter-productive though to the long-term health of the community. It reminds me of the 300 year trajectory of the early church, even from before it was identified as a church, and how the early followers of Jesus left a model that is being picked up by many today like Perkins. One good resource for seeing how relocation, remaining, redistribution and reconciliation all worked together in the early church is in Rodney Starks work The Rise of Christianity.

As you look at the impact of your ministry sites and partners, consider how leadership development factors in, presenting challenges and opportunities. How focused are they on people or on programs, and how much of a permission-giving culture (see Bill Easum’s work on this too) has been created to facilitate leaders, granting authority and expecting responsibility and accountability?
For other experiences, related but also different, in community renewal and especially honoring the centrality of leadership development indigenously, become familiar also with the work of the Industrial Areas Foundation and its practices of partnership. See more at There may be such faith work going on in your own community.

Question For Reflection and Response:
It takes relocation to fully recognize and engage in leadership developement, and Perkins writes that “I am convinced that the key to bearing lasting fruit is not in developing programs but in developing people—leaders. I believe that developing creative leaders is both the most essential and the most difficult part of community development. It was the heart of Jesus’ strategy. It must be the center of our strategy too.” How is, or is not, or how can, your community ministry site and partner follow this admonition and vision quoted by Perkins regarding the centrality and necessity of leadership development?