Category: community development

Beyond paternalism in social ministry

I’m reading When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. It is the book everyone who cares about social ministry is reading. I’m not sure yet what I think about some of the book yet, but much of it is very insightful.

Here’s an example of something I really like: The authors say to avoid paternalism in ministry to those who are experience material poverty. “Do not do things for people that they can do for themselves.” (p.115)

Then they list five types of paternalism–resource, spiritual, knowledge, labor and managerial.

This phrase sums up some good, practical advice for avoiding paternalism: “… just stop talking and listen.” So simple to do but not so easy to do.

Williams-Skinner on CCDA’s future

During last month’s CCDA conference, Barbara Williams-Skinner spoke about the future of CCDA, and here are some of the highlights.

“We’re standing between a generation trapped in the past and a generation that wants to break free,” she said. The new generation does not want the old racial polarization of the past.

CCDA is in a growth mode, but Williams-Skinner said, “We’ve got to move throm this mountain where we’re standing.” She cited Moses in Deuteronomy 1:6-8. She derived three points from that text. Here’s a summary, generally in paraphrase form:

1) Break camp. We’ve gotten settled into our churches. … The world doesn’t know that we love Christ by the way we love each other. … The best place to connect with people in in worship because there we are all equal.

“We need each other more than we know we need each other.” … Break camp from the world’s definition of success, from the past, from our own ethnic church tradition.

“You cannot mentor people into your fear. You have to mentor them into your freedom.” [I love that.]

2) Move up. Poverty is a stronghold. … You can’t get out without a prayer life. … Our prayer life has to change. … Our language about one another has got to change. … We need to be talking as brother and sister, … hanging out together. … Relationships have to look like the kingdom. … Practice right now what we’re going to be doing in heaven. …

3) Possess the land. We need to be involved in all aspects of society, including politics and business. … Racism, poverty and violence will be affected only by our service. …

Meeting John Perkins

I’m new to the Christian Community Development world. I had heard John Perkins’ name, but I hadn’t heard him speak. Finally, I did at CCDA’s conference in Cincinnati.

On the opening night he said, “This congregation here tonight looks like America.” And it did. There was no dominant racial, ethnic, gender or generational group. It was amazing.

“We are developing a post-racist group of people,” Perkins said. What an exciting possibility.

The following morning, my 12-year-old son, Cameron, and I were riding up an escolator when someone behind us spoke to my son. It was John Perkins. He treated Cameron like the most important person in the world.

I fell in love with John Perkins those days in Cincinnati. Every time he spoke, he stirred my spirit. And the way he conducted himself with my son confirmed the great spirit that he possesses.

Wayne Gordan at CCDA

The annual conference of the Christian Community Development Association started last night. It was great, and I will go back and add some posts about that soon.

Right now Wayne Gordan has just started to talk. This is the 21st meeting of CCDA. It started with about 15 people meeting at O’Hare airport in Chicago in 1989. Now, there is a monster crowd here in Cincinnati.

Gordan is president of CCDA. He’s going to talk about where the association is and what we’re doing.

Highlighting three books:

1) Love is an Orientation… it’s about how the church and the gay community can love each other…

2) The Next Evangelicalism… it’s about how can we free the church today from its western mindset…

3) Jesus and the Disinherited… written by Howard Thurman… now deceased… written in 1948 but as relevant today as then… Thurman started the first multi-racial church in America


I just realized that I lost my signal and I lost most of my notes. Shoot!

Here’s a couple of things of things that stood out:

Wayne says our youth are being enveloped by a culture of violence, and that Christian leaders are going to have to reinvest their lives in children and youth.

Also, he spoke from Scripture about the story of King Saul not being fully obedient to God, and God responding that He desires obedience more than sacrifice. Gordon said sin, the lack of obedience to the whole gospel of God can undermine the CCDA movement.

Then hundreds of people can to the “altar” to pray for repentence. Whoever thinks community development is just about doing good does not understand the great foundation of devotion, of love of God and things of God.

CCDA: Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis, the head of Sojourners, connects with my mind and heart as do few others. He spoke tonight at the Christian Community Development Association conference in Cincinnati. His topic was “How Our Choices Make Change,” and the broader theme was Synergy.

The following are some good quotes and paraphrases excerpted from the message:

First, his word to the people of CCDA: “You are a mosaic of God’s children who love the poorest of God’s children.”

You can’t keep pulling bodies from the river and not go up stream and see what’s throwing them in.

To CCDA: “What you do everyday has made the gospel more creditable in this country. … You are helping to restore our integrity. …”

Synergy teaches us that, no matter what you learned in school, one plus one does not equal two. … Synergy teaches us that when different forces are brought together in cooperation their combined force is greater than the sum of their parts. … In feeding the 5,000, Jesus could have just done it by himself, but the kid with the loaves and fishes gave Jesus something to work with; and, with God, things tend to multiply.

The dangers of government are no more evident than in Revelation 13 where it is a demonic servant. … But in Romans 13, … it is God’s servant for good. …

In last year’s election, sincere people of faith voted differently. … I suspect that no matter how you cast your vote, no one’s going to hell for how you voted. …

At the time I warned about two possible mistakes: 1) To believe that change has already come, or 2) that things cannot change.

“God is personal but never private.”

“Historians say it isn’t revival until it changes something in society,” the public stuff. …

We’ve got some challenges, some chains that need loosening. … Ministry is where we start, but ministry by itself cannot loosen the chains of injustice. The God of the Bible is a God of justice. …

We, as the people of God, are in the mountain-moving business. … We can’t limit God to just changing our neighborhood. God needs to change our nation, our world. It takes synergy.

We’ve got some big fights… The Dow hit 10,000 and unemployment hit 10% in the same week.…

We’re not going to get into partisan battles. We’re going to hold both sides accountable. We’re not going to go left or right, we’re going to go deeper. …

We have got to do more than just care about what’s in our neighborhood, nor can we just lobby in D.C. We must do both. Start in our neighborhoods and then go to Washington and cry, “Let justice roll down like rivers.”

There are different biblical models for how to do this. I’ve been attracted to Amos…. There’s also Joseph, who saved his family from starving. … There’s Daniel, who gave good advice but kept the faith …. Esther who protected her people…. Nehemiah knew the king was not going to rebuild the wall. …

Let’s look at Nehemiah, he may be a prophet for our time. … Martin Luther King Jr. went to Washington after winning the Nobel Peace Prize and after President Johnson had gotten some other key legislation passed. MLK said now we need a Voting Rights Act. … Johnson said he couldn’t do it. … MLK went home and organized in Selma and attention of the nation focused on Selma and in five months we had a voting rights act. … MLK made new things possible.

We can’t just deal with the symptoms, and we can’t just whisper in the ears of politicians. We have to be wind-changers.

Our choices make changes and produce a movement. It’s always the people on the ground with the forgotten people, that’s where the change comes from. …

We have to be those who lift up the synergy of a movement…. We have to go to the root causes. …

“God’s calling up a new generation for a new time such as this. … God is calling us up together. …”

This is the formula for change: Faith that prompts hope and then action action and then change.